Women’s History Month
Contributed by Mia Uhunmwuangho
March is Women’s History Month, and the staff at GEN came together to discuss the importance of women’s history and the women who to inspire them. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, checkout a few of the GEN staff and intern responses below.
Elaina Mataya — Fundraising Intern
We deserve a month that highlights all women with intersectionality. I think we live in a society that, year-round, could be described as white male history appreciation, and it is important to remember, discuss, and celebrate women’s triumphs through historical and current oppression. We all can benefit from a more holistic, accurate and logical perspective in looking at women who created positive innovation and social movements in our world.
I would for sure want to go back in time and eat pizza and drink Coke with Selena, while discussing her impact and legacy. Being a Mexican-American woman, her music has been like therapy for me. Selena Quintanilla-Perez was someone who had such innovative and creative ideas that created spaces within our society where Latinas not only felt safe and loved, but could thrive!
I would have given my younger self some Beyonce and Selena albums and accessible feminist literature! I would say, “your voice matters and do not surround yourself around people who make you second guess that.”
Claudia Arellano — Program Coordinator
Women’s History Month gives everyone the ability to understand the difficulties women had to pull through to get to where we are now. Equality is even being spoken about by the President of the United States, when only a century ago women were not allowed to vote. It’s great for people to see the dramatic difference in such a short amount of time. It’s also vital for younger women to learn more about role models that stood up for their beliefs, giving them the opportunity to do so as well.
Inclusivity has been my favorite GEN value since day one. Acceptance and inclusivity should be modeled so everyone can share and learn to love their own uniqueness. I see this shown with Ellen Degeneres. She opens her show and stage to people around the world, acknowledging people who do great things. Ellen always ends her show with, “be kind to one another,” ultimately asking for the love she shares with others to be passed forward.
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to continue to embrace my culture. I would let myself know that the value of my culture would be significant in addition to my value of being a woman.
Sidney Kenley — Operations and Program Coordinator
Women’s History Month is important because it is a way to highlight and celebrate positive female role models. Having a month that recognizes the amazing undertakings of women throughout history, I think it helps us learn about where we came from and embrace who we are. Hearing and learning about these accomplishments made by all kinds of women from different backgrounds is inspiring women to own their strengths and feel empowered.
I think my younger self would have greatly benefited by being told that I can do anything, and that I am smart, capable, and enough. I was really hard on myself when things didn’t turn out the way I liked, maybe I made a bad grade, or lost a sports games, or the guy I liked didn’t like me back (and of course I would blame myself for not living up to the media’s standards of beauty). I wish that I would have been less critical and appreciated and loved me for who I was and am.
I love that GEN values inclusivity. I think the wonderful Maya Angelou exemplifies this value. She says, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Caroline Crawford — Program Director
Women’s History Month is important to recognize and celebrate the victories of women throughout the past, and to educate young women and girls about the incredible feats women overcame throughout history. Many young women today take for granted the right to vote, the ability to work and have a career, the right to choose who you will marry, and the ability to divorce among so many other things. Incredible women have fought for these civil liberties and they should be honored. Moreover, other women throughout the world have not gained these rights. It is important to shine and light on these issues and stand united as females.
If I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice, I would say “You are worthy,” worthy of self compassion and worthy of love. I was very hard on myself growing up and participated in a great amount of negative self –talk. I wish I had known the concept of self-compassion. I would like to tell my younger self, stop standing on the list of accomplishments and comparisons and start finding things you love about yourself and allow yourself to be loved.
So many women inspire me. But, one woman in particular stands out. Louise Doire, a women studies and religion professor at the College of Charleston, was an inspiration to me. I drank up every word she spoke. It was the first time I truly understood social constructions and gender norms. She opened my eyes to the injustices women face every day and why these prejudices were institutionalized in our society. She was outspoken and ferocious in her beliefs and I wanted to be just like her. I still do.
Estefania Romero — Program Coordinator
I believe it is important to celebrate Women’s History Month so that there can be a designated time to honor women in history who have impacted the world in a positive way. Girls have the opportunity to learn about great things have happened because of women. It is a time to celebrate women.
One woman in my life who has inspired me is my grandmother. She was born in a small town in Venezuela and now lives in London, England. She is very strong willed, full of energy and has never been afraid to stand up for herself. My grandmother is an artist and her ceramics have been featured in galleries around London. I admire her determination as she continues to find new ways to innovate her work. She inspires me to never give up.
If I could go back in time, I would love to meet Princess Diana. I am inspired by the legacy she left behind. All stories of people who met her are of how positively she impacted their life. She was a person who challenged society with her independent and modern views. She used her power to help others, make significant changes, and to connect with people from all walks of life. I would love to have a conversation with her about everything she dealt with in her life and what she learned from it. I know there is a lot I could learn from her stories.
Kymberley Powell — Williamson Country Program Coordinator
Women do and accomplish great things in the face of racism, sexism, stereotyping and gender bias. We should be celebrated daily, but we can start with a month.
My grandmother, my mother and my seven aunts and many mentors are some people who inspire me. I have seen each of them overcome obstacles and challenges while maintaining their dignity, self-esteem, jobs and family. I’ve not seen any off them back away from a challenge. That has always been inspiring to me. Because they have, I know I can.
As my younger self, I always looked to my older self to see what kind of person I wanted to become and what type of life I wanted to have. I listened to my head, and followed my instincts MOST of the time. But, I always learned my lesson when I did not. I always told myself to be true to who I was and it has always helped me.
At GEN, we are making a difference. In this world, this day and age, with the challenges girls face, we cannot just talk about it, we must be about it. Being a part of GEN is more than just a job, it is truly an investment in our future.
Ally Miller — Program Mana
Celebrating women’s history month is important because of the lack of awareness that persists of the amazing accomplishments of women throughout time. When someone is asked about famous changemakers in history, oftentimes they can more easily name men who made an impact even, though there are just as many women who have usually made a huge impact in their field.
If I could go back in time, I would visit the existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir because of her revolutionary ideas on existentialism and feminism. It would be so fascinating to talk with her.
My co workers at GEN continue to inspire me. The women at GEN have made a huge impact on how I’ve viewed myself as a professional and a woman. The women I’ve worked with over the years have fiercely believed in me, advocated for me, and taught me how to advocate for myself.
Alex Cogan — Program Coordinator
We are taught that the history of the United States is largely based on the actions of many men, therefore it can be challenging to expose students, both male and female, to the many successes women have had throughout history. This month is important so we can bring awareness to the accomplishments of incredibly powerful and talented women, and inspire the girls of today.
If I could go back in time and visit any woman, I would visit my mom when she was my age, in her twenties! Not only would it be amazing to witness a different time period, but to be able to see the strong woman she was (and continues to be) when she stood up for the rights of others during the Civil Rights Movement would be incredibly inspiring. Though her stories continue to inspire me today, I’m sure we would’ve been best friends standing alongside together, fighting for social justice!
If I could go back in time and give my younger self advice, I would say, don’t conform to who you think you’re supposed to be. You’re exactly who you are supposed to be. Embrace it. Love it. Live on.
Elena Carey — Development Coordinator
I believe in the importance of celebrating Women’s History Month because many women’s contributions throughout history of been unlit and unseen. This month is a way to throw light on those contributions, to be struck with awe and expand our knowledge of the ways women have been brave, smart, innovative, and changed our lives. I think it’s important to celebrate women’s narratives as we continue trying to break down the hegemonic stories that define our understanding of the world.
If I could go back in time and visit anyone, I would visit my favorite modern women authors, who are endlessly brilliant and talented. Foremost among them: Zadie Smith, Maggie Nelson, Roxane Gay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. All of these women explore ideas of culture and identity that I think are needed and help us better understand ourselves.
If I could give my younger self advice, I would say: practice self-compassion. When you pick apart your flaws and failures, you’re also picking apart the same qualities that make you compassionate, driven, and determined. We all have traits that define us and the have negative and positive (and everywhere on the spectrum of good/bad!) repercussions. Allow yourself to dwell in the anxieties, and then decide to practice empathy with yourself for these anxieties, and move forward with an open heart.
Natalia Ornelas — Program Manager
It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate that strength and power of women of the past and present! They have help pave the way for women’s rights, advancements, and opportunity. We honor and celebrate the herstory of women – family, friends, leaders, role models, and all women, along with celebrating today and the future!
If I could go back in time and visit anyone woman, I’d visit Dolores Huerta while she was organizing and leading the farmworker movement. I know she is still rockin’ and rolling today, and I think it would have been awesome to see her in action during the movement that she and Cesar Chavez led.