UAB celebrates Women’s History Month

By on March 13, 2014
Sponsored by MDP, MC

Launched in 1987 as a month to be celebrated in perpetuity, Women’s History Month serves to highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.  The theme for this month, chosen by the National Women’s History Project is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”, and the UAB campus community, again spearheaded by the nascent Office of Multicultural & Diversity Programs, Multicultural Council, and student groups such as the Women’s Rights Coalition (WRC at UAB) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW at UAB), has and will host a variety of observances.

Analogous to the origins of Black History Month, Women’s History Month can trace its genesis to an educational initiative week.

“In the 1970’s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a ‘Women’s History Week’ celebration for 1978,” states the National Women’s History Project on their site.

The week first was scheduled to correspond with March 8, which is International Women’s Day (IWD), and has been observed since 1911. The first International Women’s Day, which was originally held on March 19, saw more  than one million women and men attend IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.

After the inception of the week in Sonoma County, Molly Murphy MacGregor a member of The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College and its historian Gerda Lerner, seeing the success of the week decided to push for a National Women’s History Week in 1979. In February 1980, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.

As the education departments developed curriculum for the week around the nation, organizations, spearheaded by the Nation Women’s History Month Project began lobbying for a Women’s History Month.

“By 1986, 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used as the rational to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March 1987 as National Women’s History Month (NWHM).”

Women’s History Month is celebrated by Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, though in Canada it is celebrated in October in conjunction with October 18, the anniversary of the Persons Case which ruled that women could be appointed senators.

“It is important that women know what we’ve had to fight for, nothing was given to us, and it is very important for us to preserve the history so that we can continue to create new leaders that are inspired by what we did in the past to fight for the rights we still need to get,” public health major and student leader for the Women’s Rights Coalition at UAB, Melodi Stone said.

Stone named reproductive rights, rape culture, queer rights, and job equity among some of the battles on the new frontier of Women’s Rights.

The WRC’s closing event is on the 31 of this month, and will be an opening showing of the “Vagina Monologues”, and will begin in the Blazer Hall Residential Life Center at 6 PM. Tickets are on sale at UAB One Stop, $10.50 for students, and $15.50 for the community. All the proceeds go to benefit the Birmingham Crisis Center.

UAB associate professor of Government, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, and faculty advisor to AAUW, Dr. Lisa Sharlach says that the Intro to Women’s Studies course is offered every semester, including the summer. The program has recently changed its name to include Gender studies to be more inclusive, and Dr. Sharlach says that an internship is available for students as well as an interdisciplinary minor and electives.

For a complete list, schedule, and synopsis of events visit UAB Women’s History Month.

 

*This article synthesizes information from nwhp.org and internationalwomensday.org

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