by M’NIYAH LYNN
According to the National Women’s History Museum, historically, women have not been properly acknowledged, leading to a lack of a comprehensive history of women’s situations, activities and accomplishments. Nationally, women made up only 13% of named historical figures in textbooks, the Women at the Center said in a piece published on the New York Historical Society Museum and Library’s website in September 2018.
This Women’s History Month, the National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) has set a theme entitled, “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” This year’s theme was set to encourage people to honor and bring recognition to women that are making history today, whether through serving and supporting others as a frontline worker or caregiver, or as those that are helping to give hope to families and neighborhoods, such as mothers.
“Spreading awareness of women’s history leads to the internalization of our power. We know support can raise people and help them find their histories so they know where they’re going,” Krysta Jones, board member of the NWHA, said. Jones is also president of the National Women’s Caucus – Virginia.
Jones said that the NWHA highlights multicultural women and aims to rewrite history to include these women. The NWHA is planning to do other things like webinars and networking conferences for Women’s History Month as well. She said that with the new theme, the NWHA hopes to see local women being appreciated.
“I think it’s important to realize our power and the role that we play in all areas of society. Whether it’s trying to enact policies or going into certain careers, we need to continue to fight to change the systems that have been holding us back,” Jones said.
Rosalyn McIntosh coaches women that have experienced trauma through her new organization RCM Enterprises. “I help women, especially Black women, own their own and honor their hurt and broken places by helping them get into their purpose,” she said.
As someone that has lost her mother to domestic violence, McIntosh does a lot of work in helping domestic violence survivors. She and the advocates go around NYC and do pop-ups where they give information to victims about shelter and how to get help and do skits about domestic violence. In her free ebook that can be found on broken2blooming.com, it offers information on what domestic violence is and on self-care tips for those that are managing after coming out of an abusive relationship.
“I went from a broken place and bloomed. I want to show women that they can bloom too. Blooming is thriving. Blooming is flourishing,” she said.
She is also the founder and president of Sisters Building Sisters In Brooklyn, Inc., a non-profit that empowers women and girls in self-love and offers mentorship. They do walks, events and workshops around New York City.
Stephanie McGraw is another example of a woman that could be celebrated under the NWHA’s theme. McGraw is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization We All Really Matter (WARM) Domestic Violence Rescue. McGraw started the organization in 2010 after overcoming her own past with domestic violence.
WARM is a hands-on organization that offers direct services and helps women navigate next steps. They have a critical response team that aids women with emergency removals.
“I’ve never given physical birth, but I have given spiritual birth to hundreds of women that have come across our doors,” she said.
For Women’s History Month, WARM is creating a trauma center, doing a panel and handing out awards. “My job as a Black woman in Women’s History Month is to expose domestic violence for what it is, a crime not a shame, and use my life as a classroom to help other women,” McGraw said.
Jones said women are typically brought up in the context of certain movements, such as the Feminist or Women’s Suffrage movements. Even within these contexts, history has generally been written by men. To address this, another way that the NWHA is raising awareness of women’s history is by publishing articles in their magazine that comes out several times a year. Through this magazine, readers are able to get the historical perspective, but also different perspectives on how women are seen today.
The NWHA promotes women’s history and is committed to the goal of education and empowerment. Originally called the National Women’s History Project, the NWHA was founded in 1980 by a group of five women to bring attention to women’s historical achievements. In 2018, the project became an alliance because the project expanded from promoting historical achievements to including support for education and celebration of women’s history year round, the NWHA’s website said.