It’s not enough that women know their contributions. Men must know it also.

Magi Thomley Williams,
PNJ Guest columnist – Published 7:00 a.m. CT May 2, 2020

Women’s History Month celebrates women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the United States every March since 1987.

I have mixed feelings about recognizing a separate month for Women’s history. Setting aside a separate month to celebrate women’s contributions excludes women from the larger historical picture. And females are the primary participants in events marking Women’s History Month, continuing a legacy of separate stories. But if we don’t celebrate Women’s History Month, when will women’s accomplishments be noted except when a woman is the first on record (if not in actuality) to attain something of note?

Fathers, brothers, partners and husbands need to know the contributions of women and minorities too. If they only hear the history as told by and about white men, they believe white men are the only humans with knowledge, influence and worth. It matters little how much a woman believes she can accomplish if males in the C-suites, elected offices, and other positions of power don’t also believe she is worthy of a promotion, raise, or a voice in the conversation about public policy.

We all need to be informed that women were missing from historical records because females did not hold elected office, serve as CEOs, or compete in athletics because they were not allowed to; not because they were not qualified. Women’s discoveries, and inventions were credited to their husbands, fathers, or brothers for centuries. Women could not legally own a patent, so male family members were awarded the patent, money, and historical recognition associated with the patent. These are not oversights, but calculated actions to disempower women and retain power and wealth for men. It was powerful men who made the laws to benefit themselves — this is our common history too. Young women need to be educated on the history of the fight for their right to vote and hold public office. I’m amazed by the number of voting age young women who have no idea what we refer to as the glass ceiling that has been broken by Kamala Harris. On the national level, the ratification of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920 secured women’s right to vote when the minimum number of States adopted the amendment to the constitution. Because of Jim Crow Laws, women of color did not have their voting rights secured until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And Florida legislators finally ratified (accepted) the 19th Amendment on May 13, 1969.

Northwest Florida has made recent strides toward gender equity in government: The Pensacola City Council is now made up of a female majority. Florida’s District 1, elected a female, Michelle Salzman, to represent citizens in the Florida House of Representatives. And behind the scenes, Blair Castro, was the digital director for the successful campaign of the newly elected Escambia County Sheriff.

I long for the day when it will not be an historical event to have a woman hold political office, lead a business, or referee a sporting event because she is the first female to attain the success. I look forward to a future where all people are equally acknowledged for their merits, not just a mention because of gender. I am encouraged about our future when I learn about women’s successes. A few of my favorite websites to educate readers on women’s successes and continued struggles are: www.SheShouldRun.org, www.AMightyGirl.com and www.TheFemaleLead.com.

Pensacola News Journal | GUEST COLUMNIST:  Magi Thomley Williams is Founding Principal at Thomley Consulting. Williams as Board Secretary for the Institute for Women in Politics of NW Florida. She can be reached at Magi@ThomleyConsulting.com.

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