Community / Opinion

 Making a Place For Women’s History Month

We believe that Dana Hall should increase coverage of Women’s History Month. The school should make the celebration a more prominent and engaging event for the community.

“I think Women’s History Month is an opportunity for us to reflect on all of the women and women’s advocates who have come before us and who paved the way for greater gender equality. It’s a chance for us also to recognize that we still have a really long way to go” said Heather Panahi, Social Studies faculty advisor of Dana Hall’s Girl Up Club.

Women’s History Month has been observed in the month of March in the United States since 1987 and celebrates the accomplishments of women and their contributions to society. The celebration first began in Santa Rosa, California in 1978 and lasted only a week. Thanks to female lobbyists, in 1978 the week was acknowledged for the first time nationally and continued to be celebrated annually until Congress declared March as “Women’s History Month,” according to the National Women’s History Museum

Some may argue that as an all-girls school, Dana Hall is always striving to acknowledge women’s excellence, and therefore special attention to Women’s History Month is not necessary. While Dana Hall does care about cultivating strong women, the majority of the knowledge in courses such as history is about men, due to society’s patriarchal nature. This month is a perfect opportunity to shed light on these less widespread stories.

While we acknowledge the fact that Dana Hall students are always off campus for a little over two weeks due to March break, planning an announcement during an All School Meeting could be a way to still acknowledge the month. Other independent schools following the same schedule found time to celebrate the month’s importance so we believe Dana Hall is capable of fitting something in. In the past, Black History Month, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and a variety of holidays celebrating different cultures within the school have been publicly observed at All School and Upper School meetings. Simply adding Women’s History Month to this list will make a big difference in the school community.

The celebration of Women’s History Month can take on many forms. These range from an Instagram post on the Dana Hall account acknowledging the day, an All School Meeting announcement, posters around the school, or an email to the student body. We feel that Girl Up, an international initiative established by the United Nations which has outlets at many schools such as Dana Hall can move their period poverty initiative to the month of March to emphasize importance. The topic of period poverty is relevant to all women and is a great subject that can be covered within the month itself along with historical background. In the future, Girl Up could present a basic history of influential women over the decades, focusing on their success despite adversity. This would hopefully capture the attention of students and make them more excited and passionate about the month.

Quite a few private schools acknowledged the month or day in some form with varying degrees of success. Winsor, an all-girls school located in Boston, Massachusetts initially had a Women’s History Month assembly scheduled, but it was replaced by a faculty talent show which is less relevant to the core meanings of the month. Belmont Hill School, an all-boys school located in Belmont, acknowledged this important month via an Instagram story shouting out the school’s female faculty and all that they do for the community. Nobles and Greenough created a series of slides about important women in history, and an email was sent out to the student body of Milton Academy to acknowledge this month. Many independent schools in the Boston area made efforts to recognize Women’s and History Month and International Women’s Day. We believe that Dana can adopt some of these ideas for the coming years since we know that our school is capable of covering important matters such as this as Dana has done so in the past.

The stories of women are extremely powerful and should not be overlooked; so we hope that in the future Dana Hall will incorporate these important stories into school life.

Image Source: Warren-Newport Public Library

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