Dan is a writer and educator. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Journalism and Education.
A sleeping giant is rising in America and potentially around the globe, and she won’t be denied. Much of the world will be celebrating Women’s History Month in various ways, which is officially designated for the month of March in the United States. The acknowledgement of women’s contributions to society are expected to be extremely consequential moving forward. In many ways, women have already laid down the gauntlet to the disdain of some in all areas of society. Securing justice and equality for women is still a work in progress.
Some may remember when the activist, actress, and producer Alyssa Milano gave an emotional, clarion call encouraging women to speak out against sexual assaults and violence. Accused sexual predator and Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein was the catalyst for her call at the time, but through tweets and other means, Milano’s message has sparked a powerful movement that has moved everywhere throughout American society, including the usually impenetrable halls of the United States Congress and the Oval Office.
Writing in The New York Times in a recent article, Sharon Chira noted “A year ago, when millions of people stormed the streets in women’s marches to proclaim their outrage and despair at the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, no one knew whether it was a moment or a movement.”
Chira was, of course, referring to the infamous "Hollywood Tapes," which included an unforgettable admittance of sexual misconduct by a presidential candidate. Indeed, the president's actions sparked a movement of monumental proportions that simply won’t go away. So, the observance of Women’s History Month this year has the potential to fuel more gusto into the movement moving forward. Ann Dee, a women's march participant interviewed in the same article commented:
“Last year, I just felt kind of angry and impassioned,” Ann Dee Allen of Wauwatosa, Wis., said at a recent march in Minnesota, “This year, I just feel like I’m in it for the long haul.”
A Historical Perspective
The Annual Women’s History Month was founded in the United States in 1911, and it coincides with International Women’s Day, which is celebrated in The U.K. and Australia. It has a rich and varied history of its own, but was actually superseded by the very first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. Obviously, back then attendance was no where near the millions of women and men advocating for women’s rights these days, but 68 women and 32 men was a good start. Since then women have continually organized and struggled against white male-dominated authority that--- in many quarters---barely raised their status above that of slaves or chattel.
Of course there were even earlier less known struggles and injustices. Cases in point include ‘The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo’ in 1848, which snatched away the property and the ability to own any, from married women living in the Southwestern United States. And then there was the election of Astronomer Maria Mitchell to the American Academy of the Arts, also in 1848. The problem was that almost a century passed before any other woman was selected to the prestigious group. Fighting for acceptance and to focus attention on the issue, in 1849 Amelia Jenks Bloomer published the first prominent women rights newspaper. The following year thousands of women made the trek to another
Equal Rights Convention, this one held in Worchester, Mass.; some sturdy souls made the journey all the way from California
Throughout the generations, women of color, including Asians, were subjected to even more prejudice and discrimination than their white counterparts. For example, in 1860 millions of black women were enslaved in San Francisco, along with almost an equal number of Asian women. Even as slavery prevailed at the time, these women continued to be raped, beaten and abused. Earlier, In 1855, the courts upheld such treatment in ‘Missouri v. Celia’, a slave still considered her master’s property.
In 1869 the Women’s Suffrage Association was formed in an effort to secure the vote; it still took 51 years for Congress to finally ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote. The Women’s League of Voters was formed the same year to begin educating women about utilizing the new franchise. Significantly, the National Women’s Party was formed soon thereafter, but it took until 1943 before Congress would ratify what we now refer to as ‘The Equal Rights Amendment’.
Historically, women of all races, faiths, and circumstances have organized against the injustices of a patriarchal system and in many instances taking two steps forward, then four steps backwards. Through the annals of documented achievements women have made great strides toward equality: the first woman to be ordained a minister, Olympia Brown in 1863; in 1868 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began publishing a women’s periodical, ‘The Revolution’; in 1872 Charlotte E. Ray, a Howard University Law Graduate, was the first African-American woman admitted to the United States Bar. But with all the ‘first’ in many sectors of society, in 1873 a Harvard Medical College Professor, Edward H. Clarke, came out with the ridiculous notion that higher education harmed women’s ability to bear children, and that education was just as bad for the children themselves. And that same ignorance pertaining to the efficacy of women still persists today. But, in spite of the barriers new generations of women are carrying the torch onward to new levels of achievement.
Advancing The Struggle
Many women have banded together---some with men---to form relationships in a variety of important endeavors around the nation: they are dynamic and are not planning to sit still. They are getting involved in extraordinary numbers as they increase their economic, social, and political power.
Dr. Marilyn French Hubbard, founder of the ‘National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs’ (NABWE), began organizing women of color in 1978. Her group has inspired and encouraged women and men to dedicate themselves to enhance their interpersonal, managerial, and organizational skills. NABWE currently boasts a nationwide membership of more than 5, 000 members.
Now, celebrating her organization’s 40 year anniversary, Dr. Hubbard is planning a world-wide rollout of her program using a digital platform. The rollout is intended to coincide with the observance of Women’s History Month, and its overall goal is the establishment of entrepreneurs seeking to reach legendary status for generations to come. Dr. Hubbard plans to further educate and expand her reach. Primarily, her project will direct attention to the notion that every person involved in her program reaches their entrepreneurial potential, no matter their experience, regardless of past failures, and giving no regard to past business experience.
“Even though black women are twice as involved as black men in business and industry,” she maintains, “there’s still a crisis around the country, especially in black neighborhoods. The average net worth of black businesses is less than one-hundred dollars. That has to improve.”
Dr. Hubbard’s best selling book, ‘Sisters Are Cashing In’, discusses the issues black women and women in general are facing. She highlights the importance of efforts to include increasing Entrepreneurship curricula in more Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as grooming future corporate leaders of tomorrow’s business world. A former business owner herself she is well aware of the potential pitfalls of any business, especially those in economically depressed areas. There are any number of women around the nation organizing to inspire, involve, and mentor women to aim higher.
Another organization using its resources to offer hope and inspiration to younger women is ‘Save A Girl, Save The World’ founded by Glenda Gill. Her group teaches young women that they MATTER, and emphasize various life skills. Their goals include: Career & Entrepreneurship , Health & Wellness, and Financial & Wealth Legacy. Gill’s organization was recently featured in the online magazine, Rollingout.com. She is a former automobile executive and has the backing of Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford Motors who have agreed to invest $1.7 Billion in minority enterprises.
‘The National Association of Women Business Owners’ (NAWBO) is a consulting firm founded by women looking to make a difference. Teresa Meares, Board Chairwomen, has sought to elevate and unite business owners from around the world. The organization reaches 120 countries and five continents. Meares goal is to expand overseas markets into the United States. She intends to leave her mark in significant areas.
On Solid Footing
Although the #Me Too Movement was founded in 2006 byTarana Burke it really caught fire in 2016 when the Weinstein sexual abuse allegations went public. Furthermore, fuel was added to the fire with the Trump hot-mike acknowledgement. The uproar went viral when actress Milano raised the ante through tweets and a national call to action in Detroit:
“Milano announced in an interview with Rolling Stone that she and 300 other women in the film industry are now supporting Time's Up, an initiative that aims to help fight sexual violence and harassment in the workplace through lobbying and providing funding for victims to get legal help if they can't afford it. Time's Up started with $13 million in donations for its legal defense fund. The initiative aims to lobby for legislation that creates financial consequences for companies that regularly tolerate harassment without action. A working group from Time's Up helped create a Hollywood Commission that examines Sexual Harassment, which is led by Anita Hill. Another group is working towards legislation that would discourage the use of NDAs to keep victims from talking about sexual harassment they experienced”. ( Source Wikipedia, 2017)
Mid-Term Take Over
Not only is the women’s movement on solid financial ground, but they appear to have every intention to make a substantial difference in the outcome of the mid-term elections in November. This year’s observance of Women’s History Month takes on an added significance when the protest are viewed in an election year context. According to The New York Daily News:
This year is gearing up to easily eclipse 1992 as the "Year of the Woman" in American government with 526 female challengers and incumbents — most of them Democrats — setting their sights on the November midterm elections. As of last week, 395 total women were candidates for the House of Representatives, 72 of them seeking reelection, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. Among them are 317 Democrats. There are also 38 female challengers to U.S. Senate seats in 2018 and 12 incumbent women are running again. And in governorship races, 48 Democratic women and 31 female Republicans are up for office.
Indeed, the unspoken irony of worldwide sexual misconduct, some against males also, is that the most-powerful office in the world, that of The President of The United States, is held by a man who defeated a women for the office; his ‘victory’ has thrown a red-hot spotlight on a centuries-old dysfunction, including his own admitted shameful conduct against women. Undeniably, the sleeping giant has shouted to the world---Times Up!
‘Women History Month’, Wikipedia, 2017
‘#Times Up, #Me Too’, Wikipedia, 2017
‘The Women March Became A Movement. What’s Next?, Susan Chira, New York Times, Jan. 2018
‘Detailed Timeline’, Women’s Sruggle, Wikipedia, 2003
‘There Are Over 500 Women Running For Office’, Ariel Scotti, New York Daily News, 2018
‘Women Protesting', Video, You Tube, 2017
© 2018 Dan Dildy