Women’s History Month exists and deserves more attention than it receives

By Rachael Ambrose

Every February libraries and schools across the country put out books about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Frederick Douglass in honor of Black History Month. People learn about the Underground Railroad, the invention of peanut butter and the Civil Rights Movement. As the month draws to a close, the books are put away and discussions end. Despite all the talk of equality, another civil rights atrocity is going on: the ignoring of Women’s History Month.

Many people don’t know that March is Women’s History Month. I did not know it existed until this year when I saw a flier about it on campus. Usually people associate March with the NCAAs, St. Patrick’s Day and, depending when it falls, Easter.

Just like with black history, there are many prominent women everyone should know.

These women have made great contributions to society that have benefited both women and men. Hannah Adams became the first professional writer in 1784. Lucy Brewer was the first marine in 1812. Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony were all key advocates for women’s rights. Arabella Mansfield Babb was the first woman admitted to a bar in 1869. Imagine what your 21st birthday would be like if you couldn’t go into a bar, ladies. Jane Adams was the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice on the Supreme Court in 1981.

Women and blacks have a closer history than many realize. Women were second-class citizens unable to do much of anything. They could not vote, hold many jobs, sign a contract or maintain their wages. Blacks also could not vote, and faced racial prejudice and segregation. Women were, in a sense, slaves to their husbands. Blacks were forced into slavery. While it’s not quite the same, the concept is similar for both groups. The movement for women’s rights began officially in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. The fight was put on hold during the Civil War when the women’s rights advocates turned their focus to the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, women’s rights were ignored and only the black men were allowed to votes. Advocates fought harder after the exclusion of females. The fight went on until 1920 when the 19th Amendment gave all women the right to vote. Advocates still fought for equal rights for all. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed to Congress in 1923 and passed in 1972, but has never been ratified.

Ball State University’s Bracken Library has set up a table on the main floor with books on prominent women in history. The Women’s Studies Department is holding many events in honor of Women’s History Month and a week of events that runs through Friday.

It’s ironic that once a month full of talk about civil rights and equality ends, no attention is paid to another group who suffered for equal rights; a group that is around half of the country’s population. All minorities and cultures have the right to be honored. Instead of focusing on only one, we need to pay equal attention to both. By doing this, it will bring us one step closer to equal rights for all.