Women have played an integral role in shaping history, but many of their contributions go unnoticed. From history textbooks that often represent a white male’s narrative, to the lack of diversity seen throughout the country’s presidents, the United States has not always fostered inclusivity. While the country has made progress, many women’s stories remain untold, especially in regards to trans women, women of color and women who are not straight.
In celebration of these women, Women’s Center Outreach Coordinator Nat Dahl revealed at the Women’s Herstory Month Opening Ceremony that this month’s theme is “Unveiling the Forgotten and Hidden Struggles of Women.”
The ceremony, held last Thursday by the Women’s Center, kicked off the month with a speech from Dahl. She began by giving some background on Women’s Herstory Month, explaining that Congress enacted it in 1987 to honor women’s contributions to society. Dahl went on to list the women that are commonly celebrated throughout the month such as Ruth Bader and Michelle Obama.
Dahl pointed out, however, that their are numerous women whose accomplishments and contributions continue to go unrecognized.
“What about all the struggles made by women in an attempt to make our society better that often go unaddressed?” Dahl asked.
Dahl then went on to highlight a list of wonderful women whose stories and contributions get lost in history. She discussed civil rights activist and suffragist Ida B. Wells, MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke and first female Native American federal judge Diane Humetewa.
Dahl emphasized the contributions made by one woman whose work changed Ramapo forever: Women’s Center founder Lee Sennish, who had recently passed away. To honor her memory, Dahl led the room in a moment of silence.
Dahl explained that Sennish’s influence was paramount to women’s wellbeing at Ramapo during her time. She said that because of Sennish, the Women’s center was able to provide “much needed support and resources for the marginalized women on [the] campus.”
After Dahl concluded speaking about Sennish, she went on to share some of the various programs that will be occurring throughout the month, such as an LGBT-friendly Healthy Love Party on March 9 and an abortion discussion series that will take place throughout March.
“We hope to remind people through our programs that although women’s rights have come a long way, there is still so much work to be done, especially in regards to the rights and treatment of trans women and women of color,” said Dahl.
Junior Juliette McLean also came up to speak on behalf of the organization, Ebony Women For Social Change. Mclean promoted some of the Women’s Herstory Month events that the organization will be sponsoring this month, including EWSC General Body Meeting on harassment in the workplace on March 21 and an informational presentation entitled “Trans WOC Matter” on March 26.
Women have and will continue to be pioneers of progress and change. Their work has not always been validated by history, but this month aims to rectify that. Students interested in participating in the many Women’s Herstory Month programs available this month can check out the programs poster posted outside the Women’s Center and all throughout campus.