Women’s History Month Celebrates Achievers

By Jennie L. Ilustre

The nation celebrates March as National Women’s History Month, in tandem with International Women’s Day, honoring achievers with awards. And then there is the unexpected tribute with a touch of whimsy. One could almost picture APIAVote Executive Director Christine Chen smiling as she welcomed a nice surprise: “Barbie released new dolls that include Olympic Gold medalist Chloe Kim.”

America observes International Women’s Day on March 8 every year “to honor all the women who broke barriers so that we can live in a more equitable world,” she added. “We owe it to activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama for making Asian American voices heard in the Civil Rights Movement, which led to the expansion of voting rights to include people of color.”

On March 24 in Michigan, Women’s History Month will be celebrated with the screening of “Iron Jawed Ángels.” The film about the women’s suffrage movement tells the true story of young activists who risked their lives to help American women win the right to vote.

The event’s organizers are the Committee to Elect Padma Kuppa, APIA-Vote MI, Chanakya Institute for Political Science (CHIPS), Fems for Change, Greig Women in Leadership Fund and South Asian American Voices for Impact (SAAVI). Screening venue is the Troy museum and historic village.

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is highlighting in its website inspiring Asian and Asian American filmmakers, actresses, and other artists throughout the month.

Annual Awards

The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) is honoring 15 outstanding women at its annual awards program, to be held on March 24 in the nation’s capital. NWHP Executive Director and Co-founder Molly Murphy MacGregor said the awards recognize them “for their unrelenting and inspirational persistence, and for understanding that, by fighting all forms of discrimination against women and girls, they have shaped America’s history and our future.”

Founded in 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) is a nonprofit educational corporation “dedicated to the promotion and recognition of multicultural American women’s history.”  NWHP led the successful effort in the U.S. Congress to recognize March as National Women’s History Month.  It has trained thousands of teachers “on how to include women in the curriculums, and its materials are used across the country in classrooms, government agencies, and civic organizations.”

The NWHP 2018 National Women’s History honorees are: Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011), the county’s first woman major party Vice Presidential candidate and Human Rights activist; Pauli Murray (1910-1985), women’s rights/civil rights activist, attorney, author and Episcopal priest; Elizabeth Peratrovich (Kaaxal-gat) (1911-1958), political activist for Alaska Natives, spearheaded the nation’s first Anti-Discrimination Law; Margaret Dunkle Champion of Title IX, the 1972 landmark legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in schools and colleges receiving federal funding;

Jill Moss Greenberg women’s/civil rights activist; Cristina Jimenez Immigrant (DREAMERs) activist, Marty Langelan Anti-Violence/Anti-Harassment activist; Loretta Ross, Reproductive Justice activist; Linda Spoonster Schwartz women veterans activist; Susan Burton; Criminal Justice Reform leader;  Roma Guy LGBT Rights/Healthcare activist; Saru Jayaraman Labor/Restaurant Workers activist; Pat Maginnis, Abortion Rights activist; Arlene Mayerson Disability Rights Attorney and activist; and Angelica Salas Immigrant Rights activist.

Previous honorees included Congresswoman Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to the U.S. Congress, celebrated Asian American author Maxine Hong Kingston, the late First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and astronaut Sally Ride.

The celebration of women’s contributions to society and history is held during March in the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom. Canada celebrates it in October.

GOP, Democratic Party Statements

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released the following statement celebrating March as Women’s History Month: “This March, we recognize the outstanding accomplishments of women throughout our nation’s history and celebrate the lasting contributions of women leaders today. From pioneering women’s voting rights to empowering female business owners, the Republican Party has always recognized that all issues are women’s issues.

“May we always honor and celebrate the mothers, sisters, leaders, and trailblazers who are shaping our nation’s history, this month and every day.”ay we always honor and celebrate the mothers, sisters, leaders, and trailblazers who are shaping our nation’s history, this month and every day.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and DNC Women’s Caucus Chair Lottie Shackelford released the following statement recognizing Women’s History Month:

“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to celebrate women of every color, class, creed, and sexual orientation who have made invaluable contributions to this country since its inception. We honor scientists and suffragists, engineers and entrepreneurs, athletes and public servants, and so many others who have moved our country forward and blazed a trail of progress for future generations.

“But as we’ve seen over the last year of the Trump administration, women’s fight for true equality is far from over. In Washington and across the country, Donald Trump and Republicans are blocking progress on critical issues like equal pay and affordable child care and attacking women’s reproductive rights.

“In stark contrast to the attacks by Trump’s GOP, President Obama’s administration made great strides for women’s rights, including passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, creating a National Equal Pay Task Force, expanding overtime protections for millions of working women, passing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, expanding funding and opportunities for women and girls in STEM, and making no-additional-cost birth control available for more than 55 million women. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we should build on that progress and fight back against those who want to turn the clock back on women’s rights.

“Women are leading the resistance, and the Democratic Party will continue to stand in solidarity with women around the world marching for the equality they deserve. Democrats believe in equal pay and paid family leave. We believe in more affordable health care and child care, and better educational opportunities for young girls and women in America and around the world. We believe in ending violence and sexual harassment against women wherever it occurs so that no woman has to say ‘Me too.’ And we believe in electing women up and down the ballot so that our leaders actually represent the diversity of our people.

Padma Kuppa