#PressForProgress

%23PressForProgress

Melissa Buck

Everyone knows the image of Rosie the Riveter, the woman featured on the 1940s poster wearing a red polka dot bandana, flexing her arm and stating, “We can do it.” The iconic poster that originated as a World War II factory recruitment poster has been inspiring women since the first day it was plastered to a wall and has become an international symbol for women’s empowerment.

March is Women’s History Month — 31 days blocked off to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions made by women to society, culture, politics, science and so much more. What started as a grassroots movement in Sonoma, California in 1978 has blossomed into a national month-long holiday. As the message of empowering women spread throughout the country, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week in 1981. Six years later in 1987 Congress declared March National Women’s History Month.

In his proclamation to Congress in 1987, Carter highlighted the contributions that women have made to history and the lack of respect that they have received, according to the Government Publishing Office.

“American women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of our Nation’s life by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working in and outside of the home,” Carter said. “Despite these contributions, the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued in the body of American history: Now, therefore, be it.”

Each year a theme is chosen by the United Nations to create change and kick off the month long celebration. Theme slogans ahve included “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality,” “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It,” “Equality for Women is Equality for All.” All of the themes based off of the need for equality.

The past few global activist movements for women have revolved around hashtags, so it only seemed fitting to make the 2018 International Women’s History Month theme a hashtag as well. #PressForProgress is the 2018 movement for equality. The new hashtag began circulating shortly after #MeToo and #TimesUp. #PressForProgress is made to shine a light on the pay gap between men and women around the world. According to the 2017 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, it will be over 200 years before gender parity. This is a reason for women and men to fight harder for equal pay and to not give up, according to The Women’s Day website.

The power of the hashtag is not only active around the world but also here on the Quinnipiac campus.

“With the #TimesUp movement and the women’s marches that have been going on all over the country, I think it’s a nice reminder that women aren’t backing down and are still fighting for what we believe in,” Hannah Cotter vice president of the Association for Women in Sports Media said. “It’s really nice to see people wanting to make a change.”

While the International Women’s History group created a theme based on gender parity, the U.N. saw fit to create an additional theme. “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists transforming women’s lives” is the agenda set by the U.N. The goal of the U.N.’s campaign is to shine a light on activism and the rights of women in rural areas. These women represent a quarter of the world’s population yet they trail behind in every area of development. While women across the world Press For Progress the U.N. will continue to make sure that rural women are included in this movement.

The idea of two themes to celebrate all women and all of the work that needs to be done put a fire under the feet of women across the world. Movements such as #MeToo have empowered women to speak up, providing confidence to those who sat silently for so long. The accumulation of so many activist movements have shown not only women but men that it is necessary to speak up and take action. The pulse of the movement could be felt strongly thumping through the hearts of women on International Women’s Day.

Out of the 31 days in March, the eighth day is the most important as it has been celebrated as International Women’s Day since 1911. The holiday was made official in 1975 when the U.N. officially sponsored it. While men and women across the world spend 365 days fighting for equality, March 8 represents the accumulation of all of the hard work. On this day the light shines a little brighter as protestors take to the streets and “Press For Progress.”

This year on March 8 there was a new found sense of hope and fight amongst women across the world, after all it has been 107 years since the first International Women’s Day and there is still so much to change. In Spain, women flooded the streets banging pots and pans to protest their domesticated lives. Pakistani women demanded the freedom to own a business in their first ever Women’s March. Italian hospitals were met by a sea of women demanding the right to abortions, which are legal in the country. South Korean women marched to the drum of the #MeToo movement. The president of Uganda spoke out about violence against women. In New York City the Fearless Girl statue was adorned with a cape of flowers. All of these events are just a snapshot of the much larger day.

While women’s marches did not occur on campus, students still took time to express their love for women near and far.

“We kicked off the month by tabling in the students center and having students write about a women that they love and why,” Mikaela Rooney E-board member of Women in Support of Humanity said. “It was really moving to see all the responses and how much love people have for various women in their lives.”

Twitter and Instagram users also took the movement to social media sharing who inspires them and what they want to see change. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted a video of his two-year-old daughter saying “girl power,” along with a message of support.

“Girl power,” Johnson said. “To every women out there around the world, all ages and races, I proudly stand by your side to honor, protect and respect. Especially the loves of my life at home.”

Ohio State Representative Christina Hagan tweeted a powerful picture of her holding her infant while at a congressional meeting. NASA posted images of its female workers in science, technology, engineering and math. They also called attention to the notable women who have advanced space exploration. Millions of other users flooded the sites with messages of hope and inspiration to women across the globe.

Even though  International Women’s History Month 2018 is coming to a close, the Women’s Day campaign reminds the world on their website that, “The campaign theme does not end on International Women’s Day. It’s just the start.”

The spirit of this years Women’s Day could be felt pulsating through communities near and far.

#PressForProgress has yet to come to an end on the Quinnipiac campus. Organizations have been celebrating the month and are hoping that students across the campus resiprocate the importance.

“I really hope that across campus students take the time to acknowledge the women in their lives,” Rooney said. “Women have been reminded of tremendous struggles throughout the past year and deserve some love and recognition.”

[media-credit id=2238 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The University is only holding one event to celebrate Women’s History Month on March 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m called “Silence Breakers” in the Piazza. Clubs across campus, however, took time to celebrate women in various events.

“We held an event featuring Robin Herman, the first female sports journalist for the New York Times,” Francesca DePalo, treasurer of the Association for Women in Sports Media said. “We got a chance to speak with Robin about her experiences during a time when women were not allowed in locker rooms to get equal access to players for post-game interviews. The event was extremely enlightening and taught us not only how far women have come in the industry, but how far we still have to go to achieve full equality.”

While many clubs made strides, members were disappointed in the fact that the university is only holding one event to commemorate the month.

“It was definitely disappointing, especially considering that the majority of people on this campus are women,” DePalo said. “It is upsetting to know that women are not being recognized for their achievements on this campus. We are in the presence of so many brilliant female professors, students and now even a female president-elect.”

For many students on campus, the need for change is imminent.

“As college students, we’re on the cusp of entering the real world, so learning about empowering women will hopefully inspire people to want to be the change and follow in their footsteps,” Cotter said.

College students are not the only ones who are ready for change. Now more than ever young girls are not afraid to be who they are. The accumulation of pain, fear and regret that was experienced by a previous generation of women has been used as the ammunition of change. The girls’ fashion industry has made remarkable changes to create clothing for girls who are not into bows and frill.

Target brands Grayson Social and Cat & Jack have created shirts that boast phrases such as “girls can do anything” and “super powers run in the family.” While clothing may seem to be a small feat, they are changing the mindset of young girls across the world. School dress codes are evolving to allow young girls to dress as they please without fear of ‘distracting’ the wondering eye of a young boy, according to USA Today. All of these changes rooted in the power of women who had to suffer, women who have made it their promise that girls will never have to suffer the way that they did.

Along with changes in the clothing industry come changes in the toy industry. To mark International Women’s History Month, Mattel released a line of Barbie dolls inspired by remarkable women. The line was announced on March 7, just in time for Women’s Day. According to the Barbie Twitter account, the idea was promoted after a survey of 8,000 people revealed that 86 percent of mothers worry about the type of role models their daughters are exposed to.

“Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real life role models to remind them that they can be anything,” wrote Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager of Barbie, in a news release.

The popular toy company released two lines; the “Shero” brand, featuring 14 modern-day women, and the “Inspiring Women” line, featuring three historical women, each of whom have re-written the roles of women in history. The doll set features a diverse set of history-changing women from an olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim, to plus size model Ashley Graham and everything in between.

Chef, conservationist, movie director and boxing champion are just a few of the careers of the real life women featured in the “Shero” line. The line of modern-day women shows young girls that they can break the barriers.

The “Inspiring Women” set includes pilot Amelia Earhart, artist, activist Frida Kahlo and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Along with the physical dolls, young girls will be given reading material that explains each of the women’s contributions to society. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, has revealed that while there are only three “Inspiring Women” out now, there will be more to come in the future.

“The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before,” Marissa Beck, spokeswoman for Mattel, wrote in an email to CNN.

The 2018 International Women’s History Month was met with pride and a fever for change. Both men and women across the world have spoken out for the opportunity of equality.