Women have played a pivotal role in history by making essential contributions to society, yet they are still paid less on average than their male counterparts and continue to fight for equal rights throughout the world. Women’s History Month, which takes place in March, is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments that women have made over time, while highlighting the issues that still hinder them today. Many students and faculty members reflect on the importance of remembering great women in history, especially in a time when some believe that women’s issues are not being adequately addressed.
“I think [Women’s History Month] is important because women [in the past] did not have the same rights that we have [now], and there were a lot of fights and movements taken so that we could get these rights, such as being able to vote and go to school,” sophomore Kat Sharma said. “I think sometimes these rights are taken for granted, so it is important to have a month where we look back at all the things that made it possible for us to have these rights today.”
Women’s History Month illuminates the numerous social and political changes that were initiated by women in the past.
“In a very broad sense, they fought for the right to vote. They fought for general equality throughout history to be on par with men,” social studies teacher Chuck Koch said. “In the last 30 to 40 years, I think they have fought for the right to maintain and raise a family, and the right to have viable professional careers. They have had to fight for a lot of things that men never had to engage with.”
Many believe that it is extremely important for the younger generation of women to both learn and understand the ongoing inequities that women endure.
“I grew up in a time that it wasn’t really expected for women to do much,” math teacher Jean St. Clair said. “I think that [younger] people haven’t seen that battle, and they need to know that we’re still fighting for rights.”
Women’s History Month not only reflects the vital contributions that women have made, but also helps women today understand more about themselves, and what needs to be done to improve their future.
“I think for me, [being a woman] is to have power,” sophomore Amelia LaBar said. “In 2017, [even though] it is definitely better than before, there are still stereotypes and challenges.”
Some of these challenges include discrimination in pay and in quality of education.
“Women are making 78 cents to every dollar that men are making, so that needs to change because women are doing the same jobs and they should get paid just as much,” LaBar said.
The lack of equal opportunity in education is a problem rooted in areas outside of America.
“I know a lot of women around the world don’t get the same education as I do living in the U.S. simply because they are women,” Sharma said. “I think [getting the same opportunities for education is important] because it allows us to grow, get a job in the future and support ourselves.”
Another contentious issue is reproductive rights.
“I lived in an era where [abortions] weren’t legal and women were dying, and I think that women need to be able to make that choice [for] their own bodies,” St. Clair said. “It is an emotionally wringing event, and I think that if people are going to continue to have them, which they are, then we need to make them safe, so that people aren’t getting killed.”
Many other months are dedicated to certain groups of people, much like Women’s History Month, and are important because they build awareness around issues from the past.
Some believe that awareness months can be more impactful by focusing on how history in itself can affect both the present and the future.
“[History months like this could] generate more interest by not just looking at the past, but how the impact of those people in the past changes the present, and where that might have to go in the future,” Koch said. “We can build relevance, [and solve issues by] applying what we know now for the future.”
Although Women’s History Month focuses on past accomplishments, it inspires many women to move forward with strength and unity.
“We have gone through so much to get where we are and we’re still not equal,” LaBar said. “We are not going to turn away from [certain] obstacles.”