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Women march into history month
March 24, 2016
The Socialist Party of America observed the first ever National Women’s Day on Feb 28, 1909 in recognition of the New York garment strike in 1908 during which 15,000 female garment workers demanded political and economic rights while marching through the Lower East Side. After the Socialist International established Women’s day when they met in Copenhagen, International Women’s day was recognized in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
More than six decades later, in 1975, the United Nations first started celebrating International Women’s Day.
Female Empowerment (FEM) Club advisor and history teacher Donna Gilbert identifies as a feminist and feels that women’s inadequate representation in history stems from that fact that they did not have the opportunity to hold positions of power.
“Every now and then there’s those women that step outside their gender roles and show themselves to be competent, and talented, and brilliant and brave,” she said. “I think that teaching it in history is really important because it shows your generation just how equally talented, smart, ambitious, and clever women are alongside their male counterparts.”
FEM Club Activities Coordinator, Aliesa Bahri (10) believes that some of the most important issues facing women today are unequal representation in Congress, the gender pay gap, rape culture on college campuses and in the army and issues surrounding abortion.
“There’s a lot of controversy surrounding abortion, but ,personally, I am pro-choice. I think one of the important issues is that some women are prevented from getting safe abortions because of the laws in their states,” she said.
FEM Club hosted their club week from Feb. 22 to Feb. 26, during which they fundraised for The Kakenya School for Excellence, an organization in Kenya that provides education and protects young girls social threats such as forced marriage.
“Our officers did a fantastic job bringing up a lot of important and interesting issues, having great discussions and raising money for issues having to do with young girls overseas,” Gilbert said.
In China, International Women’s Day celebrations focus on men’s expression of love to women rather than the social, economical and political focus it holds in other nations. In light of the holiday, women in China receive a half-day off to celebrate.
Today, more than half of all American women are unmarried, meaning that they command a huge political force that was not previously present in previous decades, when more women were married. They comprise 23 percent of the American voting pool, and, as a whole, unmarried women tend to support left leaning policies including increasing minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap, and paid maternity leave.
Women’s History Month started out in 1978 the U.S. as Women’s History Week in Sonomy County, California. The week was designated to be the week of International Women’s Day, March 8. Later on, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week to be National Women’s History week. Congress dedicated the entirety of March to be Women’s History Month in 1987.
Q&A: Girl Scouts Ambassador talks gender equality, working in STEM
The Winged Post spoke to Shivali Minocha (12), Marketing & Outreach Caption of the all-girls FIRST robotics team Space Cookies (Team 1868) and an ambassador at Girl Scout Troop 62868, to discuss her views on gender equality, being a woman in STEM and the importance of Girl Scouts.
WP: What makes Girl Scouts important to you?
SM: The most important aspect of Girl Scouts to me is that it provides a really close community of girls from completely different backgrounds that is really accepting. I also think it teaches really important values that seem really basic but that our society can tend to overlook now, like responsibility for your actions and kindness to everyone.
WP: Are the Girl Scouts doing anything specific for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day?
SM: Not particularly; a lot of the Girl Scouts are just celebrating women who have had a big impact in the past and posting information about women who paved the way for major improvements in our lives.
WP: Do you think Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are publicized enough?
SM: I think International Women’s Day gets a lot more attention, which is really great, because when it’s on one day, there tends to be a lot more concentrated posts and information. That way, all the great achievements can be publicized in one day, whereas when it’s spread out over a month people are less likely to actually know what’s happening, so I think Women’s [History] Month is not as publicized, and people don’t know as much about that.
Winged Post: Being on an all-girls robotics team, what do you think is a common misconception towards women in STEM?
Shivali Minocha: A lot of people think that women can’t think as logically about a problem as men can or solve it all the way through or really do a lot of the engineering aspects of an issue. For example, on my robotics team, when we’re building robots, people will think that we spend too long on more superficial aspects than actually building a robot that works well. The other thing that people tend to not understand is that just because there potentially could be differences between how different genders approach a problem, it doesn’t mean that one is less effective than the other. There’s misleading studies saying that men are better at spatial reasoning than women, but [they] have actually recently been completely disproven, so I think a lot of people are still stuck in those beliefs.
WP: From your experience at Harker, do you think that enough female figures were emphasized in English and history classes?
SM: I think that when in history and English classes women are emphasized, they’re really emphasized in the context of feminist movements, which of course is really important because it’s important to see how feminism has evolved over history, but I think it’s really important to emphasize females more in the context of other societal movements and in terms of actual accomplishments they made so that it doesn’t seem as though women’s only roles have been in feminism. While that’s super important, I think it’s also important to highlight that women can contribute to society just as much in fields that men have. I don’t think that’s been as highlighted in history, although English does a little bit of a better job of it by having a lot of works [featured] by pivotal female authors.
This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on March 23, 2016.