Reflecting on Women’s History Month

During this month of March, we are celebrating Women’s History Month. When I think about this time of celebration, I think of women rising to the occasion to tell our stories- our girl-powered, female-inspired, women-lens-ed experiences- our truths, adventures, narrations, retreats, and journeys- present through the uninhibited XX-chromosome-vision.

When I think of history, I am inclined to then of course think about the future of women as well. Understanding the struggles, the inequalities, the injustices, and the physical and emotional pains that women have suffered from the domestic to the public, I wonder how much more we will have to endure…and how much more will we achieve?

In a Harvard Business Review article, “Women CEOS, Why so Few?” co-authors Herminia Ibarra and Morten T. Hansen add yet to the layers of evidence showing the marginalization of women occurring even today, unfortunately:

“One notable difference between the men and women CEOs on our list suggests that women still aren’t treated as equals to men when it comes to high stakes positions…Remarkably, this paltry showing by females actually represents some progress. A decade ago only three women headed large public companies in the US; today 15 make the Fortune 500 list. With many of today’s female chief executives of public companies appointed only in the last few years, women have had little time to build their legacies.”

Legacy. It is about leaving a legacy of promise and success for future generations of females to follow. So familiar are the terms compromise, reconcile, reform, adjust, change, and adapt, to women. For so long, we have had to wrestle with these positions in order to conform to a male-centered culture. The process now is to make the world adapt to us, to see itself through us, and to understand and experience things through our hearts and minds, and leave a mark.

Although I am fortunate that I have not had to endure close to even a fraction of the injustices that women are suffering around the world, I use the collective “we” when referring to the stories of older generations or those who live in distant places. This collective “we” allows women of all generations to become one, and add everyone’s experience to our individual narratives.

The most recent events allowed for the attention to come to the deserving Muslim and Arab women of the Middle East who stood in the “trenches” of the war against inaccurate perceptions and images. These women only embraced what was right and true all along. After decades of invisibility, they triumphantly came out and created the legacy for the women that many thought were lost and hopeless forever.

Their rising to the occasion makes the job of their Western Muslim and Arab counterparts easier in a way. We can better defend our sisters from the myths of oppression and servitude that have been floating around for so long by pointing to the obvious scene before everyone. These events mark a platform for the women of the Middle East to defend themselves and those before them-because they too are recalling the memory of the women of the past, giving life to legacy.

This month, I hope to reflect deeper about the contributions of women near and far (temporally and spatially), and what they have done to create the opportunities laying before us today. With this, I too hope to give life to legacy.

Shazia Kamal is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah

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