Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to society, history and culture. It has been celebrated in the U.S. every March since 1987. The theme this year is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” which is in tribute to healthcare and frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the many ways in which women have provided healing and hope across cultures throughout history. The Herald reached out to Dr. Angela Robbins, Associate Professor of History, to find out more about Women’s History Month and meaningful ways to contribute throughout March.
For Dr. Robbins, Women’s History Month is about “placing women's lives and experiences at the center instead of on the periphery.”
“It's about seeing people we have tended to ignore,” Dr. Robbins said. “It's about questioning and disrupting traditional, patriarchal notions about which historical figures are worth remembering and honoring.”
Dr. Robbins chooses to bring some aspect of women’s history in all of her classes. She said she believes her students find merit in it, and she enjoys teaching it because “students gain a well-rounded view of the history rather than only a slice of it.”
In light of this year’s theme, Dr. Robbins reflected on its relevance to both 2022 and the past. While the theme has two aspects— healing and hope—these are not mutually exclusive. Dr. Robbins said it is a “fitting reminder of the contributions women have made and continue to make.”
“I think the healing and hope theme reflects how women have been caregivers and healers—as midwives and nurses, as educators and child care workers, as counselors and shamans—and the various ways in which women have advanced peace efforts and community building throughout world history,” Dr. Robbins said. “The ‘hope’ part acknowledges how women continue to push against traditional boundaries to bring their expertise to bear in positions they have traditionally been excluded from, too—in STEM fields, in politics, as CEOs, earning advanced degrees, etc.”
When asked about significant moments in women’s history to remember this year, Dr. Robbins pointed to TItle IX. 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational program funded by the federal government.
“Women had been excluded from many educational institutions into the mid-20th century, and even after institutions became co-educational, they rarely provided support and funding for women's sports while they fully funded and supported men's sports,” Dr. Robbins explained. “Title IX ended those practices, and was critical to advancing the growth of women's collegiate programs and making scholarships available to female student athletes, as well as fostering professional women athletes.”
Dr. Robbins shared that Meredith College will be celebrating Title IX’s anniversary on March 28 featuring Meredith students and alumni who will discuss how they have been positively impacted by Title IX. Dr. Robbins also added that students who would like to know more about Title IX should watch the Meredith Minute video on the subject from Dr. Kris Macomber, Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology.
Other ways to get involved with Women’s History Month this year include visiting the North Carolina Museum of History, which has a range of exhibits and programs that can be visited in person or online. The “Your Dream” blog also provides 15 ways to get involved, including supporting a women’s nonprofit, joining a women’s volunteer club, supporting women authors and artists and more.
By Shae-Lynn Henderson, Staff Writer