Women have proven that resiliency, patience, fearlessness and a self-sacrificing spirit are key to affecting change.
They are motivators, caretakers, cooks, educators, leaders, soccer moms, super moms and a major force behind helping make America better.
When I reflect on my grandmothers’ contributions, it reminds me that the struggles of women today, though challenging and complex, are in some ways a fraction of what women endured and faced before legal, social and political changes occurred in this country.
Women’s History Month pays homage to our mothers, grandmothers and women who paved a path and are still leading the way for woman.
Since the celebration’s beginnings in 1857, when New York women staged a protest over poor working conditions in factories, women’s history has kept women’s interests, needs and concerns at the top of the nation’s business — whether it be for equal pay, better jobs or educational opportunities.
Women outnumber men in America, but still earn less — about 78 cents to every dollar a man earns. In 2013, the median annual earnings for men was $50,033 and for women, $39,157, according to the Census Bureau.
Nevertheless, women have made significant gains through political and legal battles that have helped to improve work conditions, including more equitable hiring practices; protection from sexual harassment; affordable childcare and paid maternity leave.
My grandmothers didn’t have all that, but they were smart enough to understand that changing times would require their daughters to be prepared for a job.
My maternal grandmother raised seven children in Shreveport, making sure they received a good education to help them one day become school teachers, a social worker, engineer and corporate employees. While she took care of the domestic end, my grandfather ran his dry cleaning business.
My paternal grandmother, who lived in the small town of Bethany near Shreveport, raised 10 children with her husband on their farm.
They worked and brought up their children during the throes of discrimination and segregation, well before civil rights laws and workplace discrimination laws were enacted.
Despite obstacles, they encouraged their children to learn and prepare themselves for a future where job opportunities and social and political changes for women and people of color surely awaited.
They were resilient and strong, their encouraging voices producing a generation who refused to back down.
We don’t have to look far to find women’s contributions to history and acknowledge the women who played a part in it.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.