This month not only marks the one-year anniversary of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day celebrated on Monday, March 8. This year’s theme is a continuation of last year’s, “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”
The month of March celebrates many milestones for women’s rights in our nation’s history. The first major event in the suffrage movement occurred on March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, in Washington D.C., featuring more than 20 parade floats, nine bands, four brigades and more than 5,000 suffragettes. In March of 1917, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), founded by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, two prominent suffragists, and the National Woman’s Party (NWP) merged into NWP.
Furthermore, both Title IX and the Equal Rights Amendment were passed in Congress in March of 1972. While the ERA still remains unratified by the states, Title IX came into law shortly after being passed. Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Case Western Reserve University’s Office of Equity manages Title IX-related matters at the university, with new regulations and changes addressed last August in response to accounts of sexual misconduct and lack of accountability on the Instagram account @cwru.survivors.
To combat this, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women launched It’s On CWRU, a new campaign following Green Dot, a bystander intervention program that hosts training and workshops for CWRU students, faculty and staff. “It’s On CWRU’s mission is to disrupt the culture of violence through evidence-informed education, mutual aid and survivor support.” Partnered with the Office of First-Year Experience, Informed U, a program that provides education on sexual violence prevention was added to the orientation week program.
This past week, the Center for Women celebrated Women’s History Month with daily events including “‘Light the Way’ Herstory Walk,” a discussion with PERIOD @ CWRU and Dr. Stasia Jhaveri, an OB-GYN and the assistant student clerkship director at the Cleveland Clinic, as well as a talk with author Ain Heath Drew and illustrator Shamar Knight-Justice, who worked on “Ari J.’s Kinky, Curly Crown,” a children’s book published last month.
Other events included a trivia night with the Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable (WISER) and Women in Sciences and Humanities Earning Doctorates (WISHED), a panel with Women in Biomedical Studies and a history of reproductive rights and justice online activity with Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE) and Voices for Reproductive Health (VRH).
Upcoming events include an Elect Her training on Saturday, March 13, facilitated by Running Start, for women interested in running for government, and a Think Forum lecture featuring T. Morgan Dixon, cofounder and CEO of GirlTrek, on Tuesday, March 30.
We have made monumental strides in women’s rights since the suffrage movement, including electing Kamala Harris, who set milestones as the first female, first Black and first Asian-American vice president. Last week, the Army updated regulations for uniforms and grooming, allowing more flexibility, including guidance on breastfeeding, added for the first time.
Still, there is still a lot of work to be done, evident in new allegations of sexual harassment from Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who has yet to resign. A total of 2.3 million women have left the labor force since February of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with women’s rate of participation in the labor force decreasing to 57%, the lowest rate since 1988.
Correction: Originally, this article stated that the “ERA [was] passed in March of 1972.” While true, on its own, that statement is vague. We changed that statement to eliminate vagueness. The ERA was passed by Congress in March of 1972 but has not since been ratified by the requisite number of states.