Why This Matters: A Stifled Voice in Women's History Month
As young girls, we are taught by example to sit down and shut up, yet as women, we’re told to lean in, stand up, and speak out. During this month we attempt to roll back the example we learned while girls and celebrate the power of women in Women's History Month. It's a thought-provoking, empowering time to contemplate the women who have shaped the world as we know it. A time to change the conversation.
The women most often discussed during Women's History Month are white, missing an obligation to share the history of ALL women. Yes, their work has changed how we live our lives but there is a silenced group of women who we must give a voice too. These are the voices of women who are most often stifled, even in the feminist movement.
It’s a problem that makes me stop, and feel out of place. As a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, I’m often unsure when is it appropriate for me to speak out, and when I should simply step back and listen. Recently, I asked a group of women at an event “what should we focus on when trying to bring more diversity to a group who clearly is not diverse?” The question was in the context of business diversity, but one woman’s answer is relevant in this conversation too. This woman said “Be intentional. Leave the comfort of your network, and seek out those who you wouldn’t meet otherwise.”
I'm still learning when it's appropriate to stand up and shout and when it's appropriate to step back and listen, but I'm okay with that. And while we have a long way to go in making feminism truly inclusive and intersectional, I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the many women of color throughout history who have made our world better listed here, while paying intentional tribute to countless others whose work and presence left an impact in smaller ways even though they may never make a list like this. May we all be inspired to live up to their unknown sacrifices.