Women march forward in spite of all the challenges
Written by: Jenson Castillo
Trigger Warning: This article mentions sexual assault
March marks the beginning of Women's History Month; 31 days to commemorate women who have marked our history forever.
Let us ignore the interesting fact that minority and oppressed communities get a month out of the year as if to appease them, and instead let us consider a few key victories women have won in the last century.
The biggest victory women have won in the last century was in the political arena when they won the right to vote. Before 1920, the prevailing thought was that women were not intelligent enough to vote, voting would cause infertility, women did not want to vote, or voting would lead them to disregard their duties at home, causing society to unravel.
In 1920, after centuries of being excluded from having a say in the development of our society, women were finally allowed to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment, which made it illegal to deny citizens the right to vote based on their sex.
Unfortunately, this bill did not grant voting rights to all women. Black women did not get the right to vote until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Black women were last to the table and the words of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor ring loud in her article: “Until Black Women are Free, None of Us Will be Free.”
Women have also made great strides in education. After decades of activism, the first normal school for women was established in Lexington, Kentucky in 1839.
On average, women make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes. This gap has significant implications for our society, especially when it comes to families.
Image via Joe Raedle / Getty Images file
More women are now the breadwinners in the home as well as raising children on their own. The 2022 Current Population Survey estimated that there are 10.6 million one-parent households in the US (7.9 million mother-only and 2.7 million father-only).
Shortchanging women means shortchanging their children and the rest of society. It means less money for basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. It means less access to higher education and quality public education.
This in turn creates a skills gap, a shortage of professionals to fill the positions that our highly specialized economy creates, leaving aside a sea of untapped talent, among other detrimental life outcomes.
There is a fear of empowering women, as if empowered women are a threat to our society. This fear is baseless and counterintuitive. In fact, research shows that empowering women is a benefit to society and that more should be done to protect and educate women.
The fight over a woman’s body continues. One in 4 women has experienced completed or attempted rape. More than 4 in 5 female rape survivors reported that they were first raped before age 25 and almost half were first raped as a minor (i.e., before age 18).
The objectification of women in mass media serves to minimize the whole of a women to one dimension, that of sex.
In spite of all of the oppression women have faced and still face, women continue to challenge the systems of oppression. Their resiliency in the face of so many challenges is the epitome of the late great poet Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise".
There is not enough space in this article to write about every amazing woman who changed the course of history, nor can this article capture the entirety of women's history. However, there is a need to retell their story because “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”