Blog post by: Erin Jones, M.A., M.Ed., LPC, NCC
Image from https://creativecommons.org
Healthy Horizons, LLC, is a counseling practice in Northern Colorado with a strong emphasis on the holistic care of women of all ages and the people they love. As such, it seems appropriate that this month’s blog acknowledges Women’s History Month and the contribution of the women whose constant investment of love, support, and encouragement made the realization of our grand opening possible. As the founder of Healthy Horizons, LLC, I must acknowledge a gracious God and the constant love and support of my family. I am grateful for the steadfast encouragement that enabled me to see so many amazing clients overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, and discover more nutritious, meaningful, and spiritually fulfilling lives! Women have joined forces and participated in various social justice movements over the centuries to break down the sex barrier and secure women’s enfranchisement (Holton et al., 2014). Women’s History Month (WHM), though not the ultimate answer to the challenges faced by women today, can be considered the culminated underscoring of all those efforts.
WHM has been celebrated during the month of March across the United States since 1987 and coincides with International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. In 1978, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to pass Public Law 100-09 (West, 2019), and the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women in California began to observe Women’s History Week. In 1980, former President Jimmy Carter formally proclaimed its observance. Soon after, several schools expanded National Women’s Week to a full month, and by 1986, fourteen states had adopted the expansion. Congress formally adopted the full month in recognition and celebration of women’s contributions and achievements in 1987.
Today, the observance has its own website (https://womenshistorymonth.gov/), and teachers are encouraged to highlight the achievements of women in history all year long, even drawing attention to the personal female heroes in the lives of students. That is a win for us all! Further, modern researchers in specific fields of study are demanding recognition of their female predecessors who shaped their disciplines (Nature Portfolio, 2021; Nature Immunology, 2020). As a result, the long-overlooked and courageous stories of women who have impacted history are surfacing.
For example, when was the last time you planned a trip or hopped on a plane and heard about Mary W. Jackson? Jackson was NASA’s “first Black female engineer and an aeronautics expert who specialized in how air flows around aircraft” (Nature Portfolio, 2021, p. 2). Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in 1849, not only opened the door for other women to enter the medical field, but she was an inspiring model for women’s advocacy and recognition. She was known for refusing assignments in male-run hospitals preferring to open her own hospital for women and children focusing on the poor and providing clinical opportunities for other women doctors (Moore, 2021). Katherine G. Johnson (1918-2020) was considered a trailblazer! She was a mathematician for NASA and her work included “calculating the trajectory for America’s first space trip with Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission... [and] for the first actual Moon landing in 1969” (Wild, 2020). Women have also changed the perception of trauma and triumph. Consider Maya Angelou whose seminal work “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (2015) remains so transformational to some that they compose autobiographies just to write about their reading experience with this autobiography (Trower, 2021).
Women have shaped politics as well. For example, Jeannette Rankin entered Congress in 1917 and Patsy Takemoto Mink, who was the first congresswoman of color, was elected in 1965 setting an example for other women to follow (Sanbonmatsu, 2020). If you can think of an area in our history important to you, you can find women in history who helped shape it!
The list of amazing women who have impacted history is long and diverse. To try and fit even a fraction of them into a single blog post would serve as an injustice to their contributions. Likewise, it is difficult to properly acknowledge the contributions of the many women who offered their love and support to me throughout the process that led to the establishment of Healthy Horizons, LLC. Some are pioneers and advocates for women in their own right! They set an example of exemplary service and dedication in their respective fields. Other women served as a reminder to remain true to one’s calling as wife, mother, friend, and believer in a faithful God eager to provide. Finally, there were a few women who challenged the negative self-concept that made the journey, well, grueling at best. To each of you who stayed the course: Janine, JoAnn, Deanna, Ashley, Molly, Gyann, Anastasia, Coreen, and now, Audra and Megan, Thank you-truly-deeply from the heart.
(Read more for References)
Angelou, M. (2015). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York, NY: Random House.
Harisunker, N., & du Plessis, C. (2021). A journey towards meaning: An existential psychobiography of Maya Angelou. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 17(3), 210–220. doi:https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.5491
Holton, S., Dr. Purvis, J., & Purvis, J. (2014). Votes For Women. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kiernan, D. (2013). The Girls of Atomic City (5th ed.). Touchstone Publishing.
Library of Congress et al. (n.d.). March is Women's History Month. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from Women's History Month: https://womenshistorymonth.gov/
Moore, W. (2021). Elizabeth Blackwell: breaching the barriers for women in medicine. The Lancet, 397(10275), 662-663. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00260-9
Nature Immunology. (2020). March for women. Nature Immunology, 21(3), 233. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1038/s41590-020-0627-3
Nature Portfolio. (2021). Women must not be obscured in science’s history. (M. Skipper, Ed.) Nature, 591(7851), 501–502. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00770-0
Sanbonmatsu, K. (2020). Women’s underrepresentation in the U.S. Congress. Dædalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 149(1), 40–55. doi:https://doi.org/10.1162/daed_a_01772
Trower, S. (2021). Reading, race, and remembering childhood abuse—Returning to Maya Angelou’s "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1969). Life Writing, 1-8. doi:https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1080/14484528.2021.2012020
West, M. (2019). Marching toward Women’s History Month: Looking back and ahead. Georgia Bar Journal, 24(4), 36–39. Retrieved March 5, 2022, from http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/publication/?m=15035&i=568605&p=38&ver=html5
Wild, F. (Ed.). (2020, February 24). Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/a-lifetime-of-stem.html
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