March: Women’s History Month

March: Women’s History Month

The impact women have on the world has gone largely unrecognized and underappreciated. With all that is happening, it can be hard to remember to commemorate them. From women’s suffrage to the “Me Too” movement, women have grown from being suppressed and disregarded to being major aspects of modern society. 

March was first labeled Women’s History Month by Congress in 1987 in order to acknowledge that “the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued.”  Women have been oppressed for centuries, and though they have significant influence in modern society, they are still discriminated against on a daily basis. Women are harassed, seen as less than by their male counterparts, experience a wage gap, and so much more. Thus, though women can vote and have the same rights before the law, society is far from having true equality of the sexes. 

On August 18, 1920, white women earned the right to vote with the 19th Amendment. Though this law did not grant suffrage to women of all races, it sparked the beginning of laws that recognized the rights of women. All the effects of the 19th Amendment, however, did not apply to women of color. Native Americans were not granted the right to vote until 1924 when they were considered full U.S. citizens. Black women, on the other hand, did not achieve voting rights until about 50 years after white women.

In the following years, women’s economic roles increased, they strived for educational opportunities, and women’s salaries increased, though still not at the same rate as men’s. Another impactful movement for women in the 1920s were flappers. Flappers were women who defied societal standards by pushing the barriers in economic, political and sexual freedom. 

Women’s suffrage was a sign of equality; however, in 2020, 100 years later, women are still discriminated against to the point that they feel unsafe in environments that are supposed to be “safe spaces”. Earlier this month, a study was released stating that 97% of women in the United Kingdom alone have been sexually harassed in one way or another. 96% of these women claimed they did not report their assault as they felt it “wouldn’t change anything.” The study continued saying of women aged 18-24, 86% said they had been sexually harassed in public spaces while 71% of women of any age said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. The fact these painfully high numbers represent women in one country alone leads one to believe the number is closer to 100% on a global scale. 

Furthermore, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in a country that claims to be “the land of the free”, there is no true equality in any respect. Many national systems favor the rich, white, straight, able-bodied man, which, in reality is such a small percentage of the American population. Examples of their privilege include the wage gap and their lessened fear of harassment as straight men.

From Jane Austen defining an entire literary genre and Rosa Parks leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to 18 year-old Greta Thunberg challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change, women are an incredibly vital aspect of society and should be treated as such.