March 1 marks the start of Women’s History Month, like it has since its official inception in 1987. For many, this is a time to honor female leaders and their positive impacts on society, but for some, it seems to have become a meaningless tradition. President Donald Trump has stalled progress on reproductive rights and would rather have his party control Congress than stand up against sexual harassers, as the Roy Moore scandal illustrated. Instead of owning up to his policies, he proudly announced the start of Women’s History Month this Wednesday saying, “we will support women throughout our society … we remember that women must always have access to all the opportunities that our nation has to offer.” The sheer hypocrisy of this statement undermines part of the significance of Women’s History Month. It is crucial for us to reclaim this month as a tool to teach and advocate for equity. Therefore, I encourage the New York City community and student body at NYU to not let this opportunity slip and to use it to build perspective and connections.
There are many upcoming events in New York City and at NYU that students can use to celebrate Women’s History Month. Women’s Herstory Month, an NYU student organization, will be planning a wide range of activities. There will be panels, clothes swaps, concerts, film screenings and more. The objective of the organization is to recognize people who have been affected by gender inequality. A Women’s Herstory Month coordinator, Gallatin senior Romie Williams, who is also president of the Feminist of Color Collective, has assured that the committee has planned a variety of activities. If students are interested in volunteering, they should feel free to sign up to help coordinate and work in some events. The United Nations is hosting events related to women’s issues. Additionally, Feminist collectives such as the Sister Diaspora for Liberation will also host events on International Women’s Day on March 8.
The motto for this month is “Nevertheless, She Persisted,” a feminist battle cry in response to the silencing of Elizabeth Warren during a Senate debate over Trump’s nomination and a reminder of the necessity of persistence in the women’s rights movement. This year’s theme should inspire us to use Women’s History Month to re-emphasize the importance of working toward women’s liberation. While some may think that women’s struggles ended at the polls in 1918, history and the present situation beg to differ. Gender Equality is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals. Child marriage, scarce education opportunities and the fact that 35 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence are signs that equality for women is still far from reality. Moreover, in Congress, 111 women hold seats, out of a total of 535. In the New York City government, women are still largely underrepresented.
Women’s History Month reminds us that we have come a long way, but the battle is still far from over.
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A version of this appeared in the Monday, March 5 print edition. Email Ignangeli Salinas-Muñiz at [email protected]