Commemorating women: Are celebrations enough?

Female. Girl. Woman. These are titles that are given specifically to one sex, roles that are cherished and meaningful, titles that encapsulate the power and capability of a gender to mold generations, shape society and influence global systems. Furthermore, these titles have yielded themselves to ridicule, pain and denial over and over again as half the populace has fought for their right to influence, engineer, grow, vote and in some cases, live. The road to today has been marred with protests, brutality and opposition, with some of the most influential members of history being barred from recognition because of their sex.

Women from all genres and walks of life have faced the same obstacle to seeing their full potential. Historically, government systems, the arts and even society norms were patriarchically influenced. Men decided policy, fashion, aesthetic, and left women, to a large extent, voiceless. Less than a century ago women were barred entry from universities and seminaries, female artists were not given galleries and singers lacked venues. It was not until the 1920s that women were given the right to vote in the U.S. It wasn’t until 40 years later that women lobbied successfully for their reproductive rights, and we’ve yet to see proportionate gender representation in both the House and the Senate.

And yet there is hope. As we have entered the 21st century, there has been a massive upswing in social movements pertaining to the rights and recognition of women globally. Events such as the 2017 Women’s March or the actions of global actors like Malala Yousafzai have led to a broadened awareness of the pressing need for women’s education, healthcare, employment and voice in the political sphere.

A poignant example of this is the #FearlessGirl movement that stemmed from a bronze sculpture of a young girl defiantly staring down the Wall Street bull in New York City. The girl’s resilient, powerful expression led feminists and civilians alike to flock to the statue for a selfie. Fearless Girl, put in place on March 7,, 2017 in anticipation of International Women’s Day the next day, became emblematic of the ongoing struggle for gender equality both in the states and abroad. She stands as a message to women everywhere: that there is no ceiling too high or fight too hard for the fearless girl that lives in the heart of every female.

As International Women’s Day approaches and Women’s History Month continues this year, the legacy of advocacy still touches the hearts of young women on our campus. The importance of International Women’s Day is embodied in the words of Alayna Marmon, a sophomore graphic design major:

“I think that International Women’s Day is important because it is a day to honor all the under-appreciated women who have helped us get to where we are today when it comes to rights. It also brings awareness to what still needs to happen economically, culturally and politically to strive towards equality for women.”

As we look to the future of our country and the world, let’s not forget those that have come before us, and look to the future with the unwavering passion and determination that resides in all women. As Ally Mosby, sophomore math major, so sagely quoted The Aristocats’ Marie, “Ladies do not start fights, but they can finish them.”

The fight’s begun, lets see it finished with opportunity and empowerment for everyone woman, because we are all, intrinsically, naturally, fearless girls.