"Don't forget the ladies"


Women's History Month is coming to an end, apparently without fanfare. As far as I know no fireworks marked the celebration and no parades were held. In Sisters, where just about anything can spark a festival, nothing outstanding was noted. The first Women's History Month wasn't held until March 1987 so maybe the idea hasn't caught on yet. And I confess I haven't visited the bookstore or library in the past three weeks—perhaps they put up a poster or displayed some books to honor the celebration. Let's assume they did.

In any case there hasn't been much said about it and since, as my husband noted, "men get the other eleven months," I thought I'd mention here that women have indeed played a vital role in our history.

If you're curious about some of the inspiring women who have helped us in myriad ways you can visit the National Women's Hall of Fame at 76 Fall Street, near the Women's Rights National Park in Seneca Falls, New York. You remember, that's where the first Women's Rights Convention was held, July 19, 1848. There are 247 names on the Women's Hall of Fame. Here are just a few that jumped out at me:
Bella Abzug, Abigail Adams, Mary Cassatt, Willa Cather, Clara Barton, Karen DeCrow, Emily Dickinson, Amelia Earhart, Pearl S. Buck, Nellie Bly, Mary Baker Eddy, Helen Keller, Emma Lazarus, Maya Lin, Helen Hayes, Betty Friedan, Ella Fitzgerald, Sally Ride, Margaret Sanger, Gloria Steinem, Anne Sullivan, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Wilma Rudolph, Georgia O'Keeffe, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, Margaret Mead, Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Dorothea Dix, Pearl S. Buck, Dian Fossey, Maria Mitchell, Barbara Jordan
If you'd like to know more about these amazing women you can visit the Hall of Fame page where you'll find links to their biographies. And I can't let slip an opportunity to include two of my distinguished—though distant—cousins, Lucretia Coffin Mott and Martha Coffin Wright, sisters who were instrumental in the holding the first Women's Rights Convention, and who were also both active in the underground railroad. I claim them whenever I can.

The older I get the more I appreciate the incredible influence for good that women have had throughout history, and the more I admire women in general. I have seen them digging ditches, scrubbing clothes in streams, plowing and planting by hand, working at looms, scrubbing floors, bending over ovens, sweating over piles of dirty dishes, working ceaselessly at dead-end jobs, and smiling when they feel awful—all to keep their families fed, reasonably clean, and content. Not to mention the pain of childbirth and the horrific outrage of rape and other travesties.

Some of us, to be sure, have jobs we love, challenging work, wonderful friends and sympathetic men in our lives. But considering the world at large, we are definitely a minority. Women, I conclude, have guts, brains, determination, dedication, strength, and a healthy sense of compassion. Their accomplishments may be ignored but they are everywhere present. And for that I honor them and say, "Thank Goddess."