Amelia Earheart, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are just a few women activists that come to mind in regard to women’s history. Women’s history month takes place Mar. 1-31. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, this year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
“I think it’s an opportunity to recognize the contributions that women make in every aspect of life,” Elisa Waldman, vice president of JCCC, said.
Sophomore Sofia Echavarria had the same idea. “[To celebrate] the accomplishments of women and how they’ve succeeded,” she said. “And, we honor their success, even in the face of controversy at the time.”
According to womenshistorymonth.gov, the origins of Women’s History Month are relatively recent. Forty-two years ago, the tradition started to become recognized. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 7th as Women’s History Week.
Sophomore Danielle Tioca believes Women’s History Month “[is] a time to celebrate all of the women who haven’t previously been recognized for their input to the betterment of our species.”
In 1987 after having been petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, congress passed the Women’s History Month law which was to be celebrated every March.
According to Pacific University Oregon, the first wave of the feminist movement started back in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the Seneca Falls Declaration outlining the new movement’s ideology and political strategies. Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
“I would [consider myself a feminist]. I think [that] living life as a woman, almost out of defense you see the inequalities you face, and it causes you to think,” said Emma Lawson, freshman. “I don’t like that.”
As feminism has gained traction once again, mainly through social media, the equality for all sexes have been forgotten about in the conversation.
“It’s an everyone issue. So, I would say it’s a male issue as well because it’s them taking a step back and realizing that you’re not better than someone else because of your gender.” Maddison Que, sophomore, said.
“It is going to take everybody to deconstruct the system that were currently in,” Tiaco said. “How can we expect boys to make room for girls if they can’t see women also in powerful positions.”
According to the International Women’s Day website, in 2022, the global gender gap in employment, pay, and leadership opportunites was closed by 68.1%; but, at the current rate of progress, the website predicts it will take 132 years to reach full parity.
Sofia Echavarria, sophomore, and Elisa Waldman commented on their own experiences with sexism.
“It really started when I got a haircut and people were like ‘Oh, she’s a dike, she’s a dike,’” Echavarria said. “Or [when] I came out as Bi, and they’re just like ‘She’s trying to be a man, trying to be a tomboy.”
“Long before I was in this role, I was an attorney and most certainly in the law firm I did [experience sexism], Waldman said. “I walked into a room of all male lawyers – and I was a lawyer as well – and was asked to get the coffee.”
A few influential women that contributed to major gains for women’s equality and rights include the physicist Madame Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and Maya Angelou, a world-famous author who wrote 167 poems in her career, as well as being a poet and civil rights activist.
African America women have played a significant role in women’s history in the US. Among the most famous are Rosa Parks the woman who catapulted the civil rights movement, Ruby Bridges the first African American person to attend an all-white school, and Kamala Harris the first woman vice president.
Freshman Emma Lawson said her female role models are “Marsha P. Johnson…she is a black trans woman and she was a part of the Stonewall riots. It’s just refreshing to see a historical feminist who wasn’t focused on just white women and second… is my stepmom.”
“There are three women I really admire the most… the main one being my mom, she’s a survivor of domestic violence and abuse from my father. She raised all three of us on her own, and even when times were tough, she always loved us and persevered through everything,” Sofia Echarriva said. “The second in my grandma. She was the youngest out of 24 kids in Puerto Rico…and she was also a survivor of abuse. She was the one that showed me even though you came from a poor family… you can do whatever you want, no matter where you come from.”
At JCCC, 2 of the 3 executive vice presidents, 4 of the 6 vice presidents, and 4 of the 7 members on the Board of Trustees are currently all women.
“What I have found at JCCC is [that] an incredible line of female mentors and mentorship is very important regardless of your gender,” Elisa Waldman said.
According to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2022 report, women face some form of job restriction in 86 countries, while 95 countries do not guarantee equal pay for equal work.
Although many women face sexism and gender inequality, Waldman has a positive approach on the subject.
“I think 2023 is a great time for women to be in the workplace. But there are so many resources in place now, and to be a leader, I think that’s the conversation,” Waldman said. “Learning to be an authentic leader, gender was never a factor in my success. It was me.”
When asked what she hopes for women’s rights going forward, Danielle Tiaco said, “I hope women’s rights can be codified. Once they’re here, they can’t be taken away under any circumstances. To give women those rights [Roe V.S. Wade] for 50 years and then to take them away out of the blue is unconstitutional.”
Maddison Que shared the same sentiments.
“Sure, we’re improving in certain areas, but we’re still not equal… There’s still a pay gap, [there are] people still getting catcalled on the street, there’s still people being looked at as property,” Que said. “So I feel like yes, change is happening. But there’s still a lot more to be done, and it’s not going to happen right away. It will be integrated through generations.”
Sofia Echeveria and Danielle Tiaco share their Women’s History Month message with JCCC students.
“You can do anything you put your mind to… through hard work and perseverance you can achieve anything if you are a man or woman,” Echavvaria said.
Tiaco shared “Enjoy being a girl. You can love the color pink, you can love sparkles and streamers, and still be every bit as rough and tough and fearless as everyone considers little boys to be. You can ride a skateboard in a tutu, and you can play in the mud in a princess dress.”
For more information to get involved with women’s history month at JCCC, visit JCCC.edu/getinvolved.
Eliana Klathis, features editor