An Intersectional Celebration of Women's History Month
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
Happy Women’s History Month! And when we say that, we want to emphasize that we mean all women. Women of all races, ethnicities, abilities, cultures and those who belong to the LGBTQ+ communities should be highlighted and celebrated this month. And just like we said last month during Black History Month, the celebration of women should not be limited to one month. The fight for equity for all should be ongoing, especially in the workplace. We hope that you take this month to carve out time to intentionally reflect on the women of the past and present who have had a great impact on our society. That being said, if you do celebrate, make sure your celebrations are intersectional.
What is intersectionality?
We mentioned Kimberlé Crenshaw last month (we mention her a lot in our posts and our workshops – she's an incredible leader, who we admire a lot!), so as you might know, Crenshaw is an American lawyer and law professor as well as a civil rights advocate, philosopher, and scholar. In 1989, she coined the term “intersectionality” and while we highly encourage you to watch Crenshaw’s TEDTalk The Urgency of Intersectionality to learn more about what it means and why we all need to embrace this term if we want to embark on diversity, equity and inclusion work, we will break it down a bit here.
We’ll start by quoting another amazing woman who was a writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” If we want to celebrate or talk about “women's issues,” we have to be more specific. Do we want to celebrate the women's suffrage movement that helped women gain the right to vote? If so, it’s important to know the real history and not settle for the glorified, uncomplicated versions of the stories from this time period. One of the lead organizers of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession, Alice Paul, actually tried to dissuade Black women from marching and when these women showed up, Paul told them to walk in the back of the crowd. That’s when Ida B. Wells stood up and said, “Either I go with you or not at all. I am not taking this stand because I personally wish for recognition. I am doing it for the future benefit of my whole race.” Here, Wells had to not just stand up for herself as a woman wanting the right to vote but also as a Black person wanting to not be discriminated against.
How do we put intersectionality into practice?
First, we must recognize that women are not a monolith and that the oppression and struggle women face differ based on different facets of their identities.
Second, we must work toward not only understanding but deeply listening to those with multiple identities. Allow people to talk for themselves and do not make assumptions on other’s experiences.
Lastly, figure out how you can create a more inclusive environment where all women truly feel they are accepted, respected and are given ample opportunities to flourish.
Written by Katie Avila Loughmiller