When I sit and reflect on what Women’s History Month means to me, I can’t help but think about my grandmothers. Two amazing women who lived long before Women’s History Month was recognized. Two hardworking women who lived through so many changes in the world around them. Two strong women who made me who I am today. Time is such a strange thing to some, a lifetime to others, and a privilege to most. I was born in 1989 which was only two years after Women’s History Month was nationally recognized in 1987, yet it is something I’ve experienced my entire lifetime. Meanwhile, my grandmothers went their first 50+ years without it. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Even in my short 33 years, the meaning and inclusivity of Women’s History Month has changed. Growing up in a small, predominantly white and hetero town in west Texas, my view of what this month actually meant to me was narrowed. As said by historian and scholar Kimberly Hamlin, “Women’s History Month unintentionally reinforces the prevailing idea that when women do something, it is called ‘women’s history,’ and when men do something, it is called ‘history.’” I do my best to see this month as a highlight of history created by women. I research, celebrate and lift up the changes made by undocumented women, BIPOC women, trans women and so many more who are often overshadowed by white women.
Remembering that the 19th Amendment simply granted white women the right to vote, not all women.
While I wasn’t old enough to remember it, I hold on to the fact that I was once represented by one of the best (in my opinion) women leaders, Governor Ann Richards. I look back on her leadership from 1983 as State Treasurer to 1995 when her term as Governor came to an end and think about how women in political offices have changed. We no longer wait for “our turn” or wait patiently for others to ask us to lead, we get shit done. Whether we’re child free by choice or a parent of many, single or married, gay or straight, a homeowner or renter, we’re stepping up, taking charge and making change happen on the daily. I think about my own political representation and how much change they have effected and history they have made. I have hope in the future and all that those after me will accomplish.
I hope you will take time to reflect on the women in your life this month and thank them for all they have done. I ask that you stand with the women around you and support them along the way. I have hope that the women reading this are proud and take time for themselves this month. To quote my shero, "We need to be as fearless as the women whose stories you have applauded, as committed as the dissidents and the activists you have heard from, as audacious as those who start movements for peace when all seems lost." - Hillary Clinton
Leah Payne-Dean (she/her) First Vice-Chair, Democratic Party of Denver