Women’s History Month is Upon Us!
March is the beginning of Women’s History Month, creating a space for us to acknowledge and celebrate women’s contributions to our societal growth and history. As we conclude Black History Month and move into Women’s History Month, I am reminded of the connections that exist across time: the valuable role that African-American women played in our country’s history, as Shirley Chisholm of New York became the first African-American Congresswoman (1969-1971, 91st Congress). Women now make up 27% of all members in the House of Representatives and the Senate (144 of 539 seats, 117th Congress) and a record number for the most women in these publicly elected positions. This level of commitment and engagement for women does not happen without Congresswoman Chisholm’s trailblazing efforts.
While our society has coined heritage months as a way to honor the beauty of our diversity, it can also provide a false sense of isolated struggle for inclusion. The intersection of our identities, the strengths of our community are the ways in which we love and honor one another. In future months, we will celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander history, Hispanic history, Arab history, LGBTQIA history, and, mental health awareness. These heritage and awareness months highlight and honor not only the unique value and beauty of these groups, but also how we must recognize a shared history that calls upon each one of us to disrupt systemic forms of oppression and discrimination.
As I see the images coming out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I am stunned by the violence and destruction being wrought against civilians in an independent nation. But I am uplifted by seeing the faces in crowds of strong women, men, and non-binary individuals standing, in most cases unarmed, in the face of oppression. I am reminded of the critical role that women have played in peace keeping and care giving efforts. The first female President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, a physician by trade, is leading efforts to bring Ukraine into the European Union, creating unity and alliances that will hopefully provide peace. This is but one example of women leading in a truly volatile time.
We see women leading nations, states, and multinational corporations; we see their works in art, music, film, and writings; we hear their voices leading movements to combat the environmental and social issues of our time. We use this month to reflect on our ancestors who fought and continue to fight for equity in our world.
This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” It is a time to recognize the work of frontline workers in our health system, care providers, mothers and teachers. I encourage you to think of those women who bring you care and stability in the face of hardship and sacrifice. The Covid-19 pandemic and the economic woes that have come with it have brought into focus the important contributions women play in providing for families and communities. Let us honor them.
Berkeley City College’s Women’s Leadership Club is planning to celebrate this Women’s History Month with events throughout the month. Please keep an eye out for notifications to attend these events, and support the next generation of leaders here at BCC.
Dr. Angélica Garcia