WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every March, Women’s History Month presents an opportunity to uplift women who continue to fight for equality, achieving tremendous feats. Women experience incessant threats to their livelihood, physical autonomy, and safety and have no choice but to fight to control their own lives.
This past year, women continued to take hard hits; women – especially women of color – working in healthcare, grocery stores, and restaurants have buttressed the frontlines. According to the Time’s Up Foundation, nearly 80 percent of healthcare workers and 83 percent of workers who provide social assistance, including child care and emergency services, are women. At the same time, millions of women left the job market to care for children during the pandemic as schools and daycares shuttered their doors.
Additionally, women continue to endure attacks on their health, with a record number of restrictive abortion legislation being introduced across the United States, aimed to undermine Roe v. Wade and block access to abortion care.
Racial, gender and economic inequalities that already existed have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and attempts to erode the safety and security of women worldwide.
That’s why this year’s Women’s History Month theme is, “providing healing, promoting hope.” It’s time to highlight the vital work of caregivers and frontline workers as we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The obstacles threatening women were created by those who are threatened by women, but they’ll never match a woman’s resolve to fight for her rights.
Since last March, women have achieved groundbreaking accomplishments. In March of 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian-American economist, became the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization since it was founded in 1995. In October, Dr. Rachel Levine became the first female and first openly transgender four-star officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Levine serves as the Assistant Secretary of Health in the Biden administration and is the highest-ranked openly transgender official in the U.S. Her appointment is leading the way to a more inclusive future.
Last month President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman elected to the Supreme Court, bringing crucial new representation and perspective, and inspiring Black women and girls. Also in February, the World Cup winning U.S. women’s national soccer team settled a long-standing equal pay lawsuit. The team will receive $24 million and an agreement from the Soccer Federation to equalize pay for the men’s and women’s national teams.
Abroad, Ukrainian women have taken up arms to defend their country. Images circulating online include Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, former Miss Ukraine Anastasiia Lenna, and many other women participating in arms training sessions, making Molotov cocktails, and preparing to defend their country against Russian forces. In Afghanistan, female activists courageously led rallies after the Taliban reinstated restrictions on women, including prohibiting travel without a male partner, shutting down schools for girls, and enforcing women to wear a burqa. These women are showing their strength and resolve in fighting for human rights and freedom.
Additionally, Gen Z climate activists are paving the way for a brighter future, bravely speaking out before the COP 26 Conference against the worsening global climate change problem; these speakers, who ranged in age from 17-24, included Marinel Ubaldo from the Philippines, Anjali Sharma from Australia, Aadya Joshi from India, and Jamie Margolin from the United States.
These are just a few of the trailblazers who have been advocating for women’s rights globally that NOW is honoring this International Women’s Day. We know that there are many challenges on the horizon, but women changemakers and heroes will continue to use their strength to fight for what’s right, even – and especially – when it feels impossible. This Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women’s historic achievements over the past year, commit to listening to women, uplifting their voices, and giving them the platforms they deserve to continue to inspire change.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the nation’s leading membership-based advocacy group dedicated to defending women’s rights, advancing equality and combating injustice in all aspects of social, political and economic life. Through educating, mobilizing, and convening a vast network of grassroots activists across the country, NOW advocates for national, state and local policies that promote an anti-racist and intersectional feminist agenda. Since its founding in 1966, NOW has been on the frontlines of nearly every major advancement for women’s rights and continues to champion progressive values today. More about NOW’s efforts and resources is available at NOW.org.