Photo courtesy of Bureau of Global Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Despite current events, this month is a time to celebrate women’s history.
Women’s History Month originated in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 to be Women’s History Week. In 1987, petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, the week was expanded to include the entire month of March.
Ever since then, women across the world have been recognized for their contributions and accomplishments that have impacted society.
“An influence to me in women’s history is Michelle Obama,” said Jacquise Harris, a student of kinesiology at Jacksonville University. “Michelle carries herself with a certain poise that all young women should look up to.”
Many would list women of great renown as their influencers, such as Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, or Aretha Franklin.
But others would consider those close to them as heroes, women who are not in the spotlight, but are impacting those in their community.
“I do feel that I have had the great privilege to be surrounded by great women throughout my life,” said Shelley Grant, assistant professor of sociology. “My mother and my grandmothers, who taught me the value of hard work and honesty and treating others with respect.”
Throughout the years, women have faced many obstacles, from political issues like women’s suffrage to social issues like equal pay between men and women. But despite those obstacles women have continued to prevail.
Women have represented approximately 57 percent of college enrollments in America, according to a 2010 New York Times article. According to the Center for Public Integrity, women represent 24 percent of the Congressional seats, more than any other time in the nation’s history. In addition, women represent 18 percent of governors and 29 percent of State Legislature seats.
In the words of American philanthropist Melinda Gates, “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”
Women’s History month has impacted many women, by highlighting their accomplishments and shedding light on those who were underestimated but overcame the obstacles facing them.
“Women’s History Month has impacted me because by surrounding myself with strong women and having women of power to look up to, it allows me to learn and grow as a young woman,” Harris says.
The support for women has increased tremendously; generation after generation has witnessed the rise of women. Hopefully, more women will be role models and leaders in all fields, pursuing any career they desire to achieve.
While the future is unknown, it is evident that the future for women is bright. Grant has witnessed many of her female peers succeed and become role models, advocates, and leaders in their own communities, and she hopes that all her students can achieve that goal as well.
“There is no greater gift than being able to see my students succeed and accomplish their goals,” says Grant. “I want all their dreams to come true.”