by Emily Kaplan, Mina’s List Communications Intern
In March, the United States celebrates Women’s History Month, which honors the unsung, unacknowledged women so often left out of history. Women’s History Month in the US traces it roots to 1981, when Congress passed a Joint Resolution requesting the President proclaim a Women’s History Week starting March 7th of 1982. Women’s History Week became Women’s History Month in 1987, and it has been celebrated ever since.
As we come to the end of this month, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on an experience I recently had that really exemplifies the growth and transformation this month (and this journey as Mina’s List Communications Intern) has inspired in me.
On March 7th, the day before International Women’s Day, I spent my day at the Women in Leadership Conference at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The Conference was a gathering of powerhouse women in politics, from the national, state, and local levels. Surrounded by former and current leaders in politics, it was a fitting way to celebrate the accomplishments of women political leaders throughout history. I was in the company of women like US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who opened the conference by sharing that when she meets young girls she tells them who she is and what she’s done: “My name is Elizabeth and I ran for Senate because that’s what girls do.”
At the conference, it was impossible not to be inspired by the women in front of me who had accomplished so much, whether they were just starting their work in politics or already had decades of experience. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the women in front of me and the women with whom I was sitting. I knew that I was sitting beside women who would be the future changemakers in politics, and knowing that one day I might well be campaigning for the women surrounding me was very moving. This is all the more important given that women make up just 22 percent of all national parliamentarians globally (even less in the US). When women are politically empowered as leaders, gains are made for women’s rights and the well-being of all citizens of a country. In Rwanda, women make up 64% of Parliament. The nation has become a leader among African countries for economic and social development, and this is no coincidence.
I am so proud to be involved in an organization like Mina’s List, supporting the effort to empower women all around the world to make meaningful, lasting change. At the conference and to a rousing round of applause, Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the US Senate and one of the co-sponsors of the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a Women’s History Week in 1981, said it best: “That’s what women do. Change the tone, change the tide, change history. That’s what we’re all about.”
So as Women’s History Month comes to a close in the US, wherever you are, I encourage you to keep celebrating women by working to change the tide, for yourself, for women around the world, and for all the future women to come.