By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
March marks Women’s History Month, and the Meridian Township Communications Department is taking full advantage of the opportunity to educate community members about females and their accomplishments of both the past and present.
Andrea Smiley, administrative assistant for the Meridian Township Communications Department, said that the township used a variety of methods to celebrate womanhood with community members.
“We have shown the importance of Women’s History Month in many ways including sharing on social media, such as Meridian Township’s Facebook page, our HOMTV & Township eNewsletters, an intern story which airs on our government access channel HOMTV 21, and an interview that showcased female athletes, which also aired on HOMTV 21 in our sports show, ‘All Access’,” Smiley said.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Women’s History Month first began on March 8, 1857, when female factory workers in New York City staged a protest over poor working conditions. Formally recognized as just one week, it was not until 1987 that the United States’ Congress formally recognized Women’s History Month as the full month of March.
Sierra Peterson is the lead organizer of the East Lansing branch of Take Back The Night, an international organization that seeks to end all forms of sexual violence. Peterson said that celebrating Women’s History month can be an empowering process for women in every sort of community.
“Women’s History Month is a time to put women’s matters, projects, and activism to the forefront because normally they are overshadowed by men,” Peterson said. “By doing this, we’re able to highlight that sexism does exist and there’s still a long way to go.”
Peterson also said that having township involvement in Women’s History Month is beneficial because it creates a platform for residents to engage in dialogue about issues that might not be discussed openly otherwise.
“In East Lansing, it’s a little different because we’re in an open college environment, for the most part. But when you’re in a township and people are older and settled and you’re taken out of that kind of environment, it’s still important to talk about assault, relationship dynamics, and other women’s issues,” Peterson said. “It brings more of a family focus to these issues and lets people know that gender matters.”
Research completed by the United States Census Bureau concluded that in 2014, full time female workers earned only 79 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Additionally, data from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center states that in 2013, there were 66,628 reported cases of domestic violence with female victims. In comparison, there were 26,752 reported cases with male victims.
Mid-Michigan resident Autumn Zwiernik said that it is important for leaders and public figures to inform the public about these types of women’s issues, especially during Women’s History Month.
“It’s a personal responsibility, but it’s important for our political leaders, celebrities, and authorities in different cities to step up and educate their people,” Zwiernik said.
Zwiernik also said society’s progression is rooted in understanding the struggles of the past.
“All throughout history women have been oppressed, and it’s important to bring attention to that so we can learn from our mistakes and move towards equality. We need to appreciate the struggles that our ancestors went through and that women today are still going through,” Zwiernik said. “It’s important to understand our past so we can move towards the future.”