Women’s Herstory Month

 

Meighan Ackon

 

By Shone Lane and Dasha Harrold

Bronx Journal Staff Writers

African-Americans do it in February. Latinos do it in September and October. Asians do it in May. So, when do women celebrate their history and heritage?  This month! Although it doesn’t get as much attention as those other month-long celebrations, March is Women’s History Month. In fact, many people don’t even know that it exists.

“I had no idea that we [women] had a month – I am so embarrassed,” said Meighan Ackon, a Bronx daycare teacher. Nevertheless, she was excited about the idea.  “I want to make a big deal of celebrating Women’s History Month and I want to focus on self-esteem,” Ackon explained.

While Ackon is very fond of poet/writer Maya Angelou, she stresses that she is not just speaking of celebrating the accomplishments of the few women noted in history books across America. She really believes that all women should be celebrated.

“These days we need positive role models from all walks of life,” Ackon said.“That means the pregnant girl that finished high school should be celebrated. Yeah, she may have made a mistake, but finishing high school in those circumstances is an accomplishment.  She is a role model for other teens in her shoes.”

Jennefer Witter, president of The Boreland Group Inc., a public relations firm, was also unaware of Women’s History Month.  “I don’t think people know about it… when is Women’s History Month, again?” she asked.

Jennefer Witter

Once she learned more about it, Witter said the month should focus on women helping women.  “I believe that we should help each other because we are still behind in terms of positioning in companies and salaries. We should help each other as much as possible to achieve success,” she said.

Although she was unaware of ‘Women’s History Month’, she and some of her co-workers celebrate it for more than a month, she said.  “For us, we celebrate it everyday,” she noted. “The bulk of my clients, business contacts, and friends are women,” she said.  “We celebrate each other, we support each other…you don’t need a month to celebrate what you already have, and it’s a daily blessing.”

The official recognition of women and their achievements goes back to 1981, when it began as “National Women’s History Week,” and to 1987 when it was extended to a month-long celebration.

Although women have made tremendous contributions throughout history, according to women activists, it is now that some women are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a shot at becoming the first women U.S. president. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is Madame Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Socialist Michelle Bachelet is Chile’s first female president. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first woman head of state.

But with all the contributions women have made to society, why are they not being celebrated?

“Because women have been seen as second class citizens, it [Women’s History Month] is viewed as a second class [celebration],” said Monique Weston, a Bronx daycare center director who believes the month is necessary “because it highlights the accomplishments many women have made to society.”

Weston celebrates Women’s History Month by teaching her students about the accomplishments of women not known by the general public. She is inspired by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and contends that women who have dedicated a considerable portion of their lives to the advancement of society should be honored.

Monique Weston

“I think that there are times when men are still not as receptive to women and are not used to the idea that women are in particular positions,” said Laura Douglas, Supreme Court Justice and Supervising Judge for the Bronx County Civil Court. “But that is gradually changing because we [women] are here to stay. You don’t erase years and years of not having any power and not having a voice overnight,” Douglas added. “But things are getting a little bit better.”

Douglas referred to representation of minorities and women in the legal field, and more specifically the judgeships. According to Douglas, about half of the 20 Bronx County Supreme Court Civil Justices are women: five are African American; four are Hispanic and one is white. In Bronx County’s lower Civil Court there are approximately eight Justices, including four Hispanic women and one African-American woman, she said.

Justice Douglas believes that the process of full integration for women and minorities is an evolutionary process. It is important for women to be acquainted with the law and pursue legal careers, “For the sake of diversity,” she said. “Women bring different view points and look at things differently than men do,” she added.

Judge Laura Douglas

 

Although Bronx women agree that Women’s History Month is not highly publicized, Professor Bertrade Banoum, director of the Women’s Studies Program at Lehman College, attempts to change that by doing field work to make sure that, “More women are discussed in school curricula starting in kindergarten through the twelfth grade.”

Banoum said, “The Goal of the Women’s Studies Program is to restore Women’s History.” She noted that only two to three percent of historical textbook content is devoted to women.

“I have yet to find an African Civilizations or an Africana Studies textbook that has one chapter exclusively detailing the distinct contributions of black women,” she said.

For more information, visit the Women’s Studies Program at Lehman’s Carman Hall, room 221; or call 718-960-1160.

Originally Published on March 2007

Page designed by: Junior Galeas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *