PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Celebrating Women in Business and Life

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Celebrating Women in Business and Life
Anthony Domathoti, HGAR President

I challenge you to learn about women in various fields who you may not have heard of before. My goal in offering this challenge is to inspire and/or infuriate, and I’m including men in this.

Most of us know March is National Women’s History Month, but sometimes it is not well recognized. National Women’s History Month has been around for a while, but people tend to miss the point of it. Being a more modern event, there is confusion about what we are celebrating. Some may think that the month is only dedicated to the right of identifying as a woman, but it is much more.

History has not been kind to women. When I think about the past, I wonder how women were able to summon the persistence and bravery to live through difficult times. As we live through a pandemic and intense political turbulence, I have realized that living through history is primarily challenging. We often think that history is abstract, something that happens to other people—other generations—until we find ourselves amidst new events that worry us of the unknown. How did the women quell their fears enough to strive in the face of an uncertain future? How were they able to keep going despite not fully knowing what the future might hold for women, for their daughters and granddaughters?

Women today have more rights than women in previous generations, but there was no guarantee for the women of my past that this would eventually be the case.

Who are the women in your life? Are they mothers or sisters? Daughters or friends? What about the women who inspire you? Your teachers or your coaches, your boss or your co-workers, even actors or athletes you look up to?

In honor of Women’s History Month, we celebrate all of them today, this month, and always. Their ambition. Their strength. Their courage.

March is a time for empowerment. Looking at the long history that has gotten us here, there are so many great women who have done great things for the world. Now, if not always, is a time to recognize that.

In tribute to all who paved the way, I honor the poem, “We Speak Your Names,” by Pearl Cleage with the following excerpt:

“We are here to speak your names
because of the way you made for us.
Because of the prayers, you prayed for us.
We are the ones you conjured up, hoping we
would have strength enough,
and discipline enough, and talent enough, and
nerve enough
to step into the light when it turned in our
direction and just smile for a while.”
“We are the ones you hoped would make you proud
because all of our hard work
makes all of yours part of something better, truer, deeper.
Something that lights the way ahead like a lamp unto our feet,
as steady as the unforgettable beat of our collective heart.”

As we progress into the 21st century, we are working toward diversity and equality. We are in a more accepting climate that encourages growth and diversity. There is empowerment where there is growth. I quote, “Nothing will work unless you do.” –Maya Angelou

As an empowering time, this is an opportunity to recognize and teach the contributions of women to all. February and March are a time for encouraging diversity, equality and our long, important history. Take this time to appreciate the history and contributions of women and female role models that have influenced us and our history.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month this year, we look back on how far our nation has come with regards to gender equity and the critical role woman have played and still play in our society. We celebrate the trailblazers—the firsts—the women who have paved the way.

There’s a risk that, after celebrating Black and Women’s History Months, we’ll go back to a status quo where we don’t give those perspectives the attention they deserve.

Instead, lets renew our focus on incorporating a diversity of voices into our history. If we use Black and Women’s History Months to talk about how we can provide diverse perspectives in our everyday lives, then we can address some of the underlying problems in how we learn history and see the world—Representation matters; being heard matters and women of all backgrounds matter.

To this day, women still do not make as much money as men even if they are doing the same job. Women of color are particularly disadvantaged by this alarming statistic that is extremely embedded in contemporary society.

Thank you to the brave women and their firsts. You sowed invaluable seeds for generations to come. Their work made them firsts but their ongoing efforts ensure that they will not be the last.

I benefit from the sacrifices of nameless women. I tell my daughters that they can be anything they want and do whatever they want to do. We can move through life with relative ease compared to women of the past—especially those disproportionately impacted by cruelty for being women of color, poor, or both. This encouragement and freedom were not afforded to them. We must continue the tradition of persistence.

So, if you care about women, show up for them and make space for them. Believe and protect them when they’re hurt by the social impediments that exist today.

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