"The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that... women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves." — Louise Otto, (Luise Otto-Peters), German feminist, 1849
March is National Women’s History Month. Sharing the spotlight with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, women’s history often takes a backburner to green beer and egg hunts. But as the mother of two small girls, I’m beginning to realize the importance of female role models in a way that I never quite grasped before.
Each time I turn on the television or walk down the street, I’m confronted with the fact that sex—more so female sexuality—sells. It sells everything from M&M’s to hearing aides. It is used to promote organ donation and animal rights. While Disney princesses have improved (and my 3-year-old loves them), they are still busty, naive and in need of rescue. While these images affect everyone, I think our kids are most vulnerable to stereotypes of women’s roles and valued characteristics.
Throw in current debates over female reproductive health, derogatory comments made by Don Imus or Rush Limbaugh and our country's bizzare relationship with breastfeeding, and you can get in to heavy stuff.
It all sends a message.
Short of living in a box, what can we do? Here are a few ideas to bring the concept of National Women’s History Month home.
Pay attention to the ideas that are portrayed in media and maintain an age-appropriate dialogue on the content.
- Wondering where to start? Check out these tips from PBS.
Help your kids identify a few female role models that match up with their interests.
- For video interviews of successful women in science and technology, check out the Women Role Model Project.
- Sports Illustrated for Women: “100 Greatest Female Athletes”
- Female Warriors.
- Learn about women adventurers, artists, activists and leaders at Biography.com under Women’s History.
- Visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
- Pair the movie "Iron Jawed Angels" with a trip to the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.
- Like aviation? Read about Amelia Earhart then see her aircraft at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Pioneers of Flight exhibit. Also, learn about female astronauts Dr. Sally Ride and Dr. Mae Jemison.
- Visit the Clara Barton National Historic Park in Glen Echo, Md.
- For more ideas, click here.
Be an example.
- Support or volunteer with the Boy or Girl Scouts of America.
- Contribute to organizations such as CARE International.
- Become a mentor.
Understanding the positive impact of women in history and in modern life is important for both girls and boys. National Women's History Month is a perfect opportunity to learn more with your family.
What are your thoughts on Women's History Month? Tell us in the comments.