Women’s History Month Part 2: Hope

Women’s History Month Part 2: Hope

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,10 March 2015

We learned in part 1 that we’ve still got plenty to be angry about when it comes to women’s rights but we’re currently on a cocktail-glass-half-full type kick, so let’s explore the many and varied ways humans have made enormous strides in terms of gender equality.

1. You Down With RBG? Women of the Court have been kicking ass and taking names since the ineffable Sandra Day O’Conner was named the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Sadly there have only been four total but what a four!! Sharp legal minds, cutting wit, and more than able to hold their own with the be-testicled members of the bench, the ladies of SCOTUS give us hope for a better tomorrow. Fear the frill.

2. Afghan Men Wear Burqas to Promote Women’s Rights. There were only a few of them marching through the streets of Kabul this past week but the fact they were doing so despite the menace of the Taliban and its atrocious history with women is commendable. They took the phrase “you don’t know someone ‘til you walk a mile in her shoes” to a new level.

3. A Few Good Women Who Have Gone Before Us. There are obviously more women of note than we can hope to honor in this post so let’s just talk about a few. This past week featured a day (March 4) that marked the anniversary of two momentous events for women in American Politics. In 1917 — before all American women could even vote — Jeanette Rankin became the first U.S. Congresswoman. Then in 1933, Frances Perkins became the first female Cabinet member. Rankin worked diligently for Women’s Suffrage and Perkins worked to ensure the success of the New Deal and Social Security. That same day was the birthday of Miriam Makeba, an award-winning singer and political activist who was one of the most visible opponents of the apartheid regime. This resulted in her South African citizenship being revoked but she fought on.

4. A Few Good Women Who Walk Among Us. On our podcast, This Week in Jackassery (if you haven’t listened yet, get off your ass and TCB!) we’ve talked about sexism in tech but let’s look at two women who are too busy being science rockstars to worry how their male counterparts typically earn more acclaim and dolla-dolla-bill. Dr. Temple Grandin is best known for accomplishing all that she has while being autistic; this professor of animal science invented a device that comforts countless people with autism and devotes her life to the humane treatment of animals. Then there is Flossie Wong-Staal, who is the same age as Grandin but specializes in a very different science. Dr. Wong-Staal was the first to clone HIV-1 and create a map of its genes, leading to a test for the virus. Right now she’s working to find new drugs to fight AIDS and other diseases.

Next, we must pause and reflect upon the pint-sized wonder that is Senator Barbara Mikulski. Not just because she’s a fellow Marylander but because of what she has done for women in American politics. Showing that women can cooperate to get work done even when we don’t see eye to eye (unlike way too many male counterparts), this honorary dean of the Senate women is a firebrand of the highest caliber. Some have called her tough and mean; I call her tenacious and inspirational. The first Democratic woman of the Senate worked hard to make sure that she wouldn’t be the last and fostered bipartisanship and female camaraderie whenever she could, including organizing monthly dinners for all women of the Senate. She will be stepping down in 2017, opting to spend her remaining time in office actually working rather than campaigning.

5. A Few Good Women Who Will be Kicking Ass in Years to Come. The SPARK Movement is made up of individuals and organizations who, in response to the American Psychological Association’s report on the sexualization of girls, are organizing girls and women ages 13 to 22 to engage in solving the problem rather than just protecting them from sexualization. After determining that the don’t-be-evil Google only bothered to feature women in 17 percent of its Google Doodles (and only a measly 4 percent for women of color), SPARK worked with Google to build a new map to bring people up to speed with women’s history in their everyday lives. 21-year-old SPARK activist, Celeste Montaño told BuzzFeed, “When you’re told that mostly white men did anything worthy to create the world that we live in, you kind of feel like this world isn’t yours.” Here’s to the women and girls who are making the world ours!

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Hat Tips:

SPARKBuzzFeedCenter for American Women and PoliticsThe IndependentU.S. State DepartmentTimeBaltimore SunNPRUNESCOThe Guardian, Image Credit: Flickr

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