BY DEVIN BAKER- STAFF WRITER
March is National Women’s History Month. It is just a small recognition of the many amazing achievements brought forth by women in the United States’ history. In the ins and outs of everyday life, it may be easy to forget how pivotal of a role Women have played in American history. March allows us to celebrate these achievements and the month is highlighted by March 8 with the celebration of International Women’s Day.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential statement in regards to Women’s History Week, and in 1981, after several states began to move to recognize the week of March 8 as Women’s History Week, Congress asked President Ronald Reagan to recognize the week nationally. In a 1982 proclamation Reagan said: “As leaders in public affairs, American women not only worked to secure their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity but also were principal advocates in the abolitionist, temperance, mental health reform, industrial labor and social reform movements, as well as the modern civil rights movement. Their dedication and commitment heightened awareness of our society’s needs and accelerated our common efforts to meet those needs.” Shortly thereafter, Reagan, his administration, and the American people realized that it would be impossible to give proper recognition to an entire history of achievement by women in a mere week, and so became National Women’s History Month in 1987.
Every President since Reagan, including President Trump, has continued the tradition. This year Trump also made a proclamation to name March Women’s History Month: “America honors the celebrated women pioneers and leaders in our history, as well as those unsung women heroes of our daily lives… America is also mindful of the fight that continues for so many women around the world, where women are often not protected and treated disgracefully as second-class citizens. America will fight for these women too, and it will fight to protect young girls who are robbed of their rights, trafficked around the world, and exploited.” Unfortunately, words are not always representative of actions. President Trump has not practically demonstrated his devotion to maintaining and encouraging women’s rights.
President Trump signed two bills encouraging women to join and continue working in STEM fields through NASA and the National Science Foundation. While this is a great win for women in these fields on the surface level, a closer look would reveal President Trump’s either lack of legitimate care for the field or his incompetence to produce uniform policy, even within his first 100 days in office. Critics note that Trump’s signing of these two bills would be futile as his 2018 proposed budget eliminates funding for NASA’s education programs.
In another move against women’s rights, the State Department announced that representatives from the Centre for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) and the Heritage Foundation would represent the U.S. at a United Nations conference on women’s rights in March. Both groups are notorious for their fundamentalist views. C-FAM, labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was created in the 1990s to, in practical terms, push back against the rights of women in U.N. resolutions and policies. The Heritage Foundation advocated for the repeal of the Violence Against Women Act. The group said grants for the protection of violence against women were “a misuse of federal resources and a distraction from concerns that truly are the province of federal government.” These two groups who have taken actions against women, LGBTQ+ persons and transgendered people now are represented in the official delegation to the U.N.
While I can appreciate the formality and gesture made by our President, his dedication to the promotion of women’s rights and equality in the United States does not seem to go beyond that. President Trump talks a big talk but has not acted in any way thus far to demonstrate that this is something that truly matters to him.
On the plus side, at least women have something to rally against now.
Here is to all women in the United States and in the world. Here is to those women who we recognize as our leaders in our present and our past, and those young women who will become our leaders in the future. Here is to those women who are forgotten in history books and to those women who make impacts on even only one person. These women and all women were celebrated in March, and should continue to be celebrated throughout the year as everyday women change the world, with or without a President who supports them.