What Women’s History Month Means to Us
International Women’s History Month is coming to an end but that does not stop us from reflecting on what this celebration entails. Across the world, women fight battles in the work place, on the streets and in their own homes challenging what it means to be a woman and taking matters into their own hands to make the world a better place for all. We asked these five college-aged Latinas what this month means to them, especially as Latinas who face double the challenges as minority women.
20 years old
2nd year Biology major & History minor
Fort Worth, Texas & San Luis Potosi, Mexico
“Growing up as a Latina in a primarily Latino community and then moving to Austin, to a predominately white school, made me doubt what I could achieve. As an undocumented Latina, this made it harder to ignore. I fell into a dark place, believing that I didn’t belong and being reminded constantly that my life could change in an instant was the worst time in my college experience.
And yet, Women’s History Month is a reminder to many that women from different backgrounds are being celebrated for their contributions from social to political achievements as well as their persistence for equality. This reminder gives me strength and inspiration, as well as a renewed energy to keep fighting, never backing down. To me, Women’s History Month is a month to celebrate about how far we have come, but as well as a reminder to those that anything is possible even when we believe it isn’t.This reminder gives me strength and inspiration, as well as a renewed energy to keep fighting, never backing down. To me, Women’s History Month is a month to celebrate about how far we have come, but as well as a reminder to those that anything is possible even when we believe it isn’t.”
26 years old
“Women’s History Month is an opportunity to reflect on all the persons who have existed and persisted so that you can live as the person that you are today. Growing up we learn US History, and this narrative is mostly dominated by male figures. Even more rare in our history lessons do we learn about Latina women.
This month gives us the opportunity to by our own means look into our history and discover a new narrative or create an expanded view. By digging into our history, we can reflect on our own identities and what it means at this moment to be a Latina woman. We are able to give thanks to those who have paved the way to where we are now and reflect on what we can do to continue to progress towards a better life for our fellow and future Latinas.”
19 years old
1st year Studio Art major
“Women’s History Month wasn’t something we celebrated in my home specifically, but my mom was a single parent who always told us we could do anything a man could do, if not better, constantly. It isn’t new to me or my household, but there were never customs of celebration either.
I identify as Caribbean, rather than Latina so that others feel more comfortable (as I don’t look like most Latinas) so, when Latina teachers who were aware of the holiday (and me plus my heritage) acknowledged strong women of their heritage in school, I was often left out of the discussions and left to hear lectures about Black women that changed the world when I got home. I kind of wish I’d been included in those school conversations, because I might have been closer to that side of myself and felt empowered in addition to the empowerment I got from my mom’s Black fem history lessons, but I can sort of understand why I wasn’t seen as fitting of the Latina criteria.
Women’s History Month is very important to me, but I also feel as if it doesn’t get the acknowledgement it should, like other holidays. Noticing women and giving them applause for their accomplishments takes down toxic masculine stereotypes a little at a time, and I also feel like that’s a reason people choose not to give it the recognition it deserves.”
22 years old
4th year Bilingual Education major
“Women’s History Month to me means that the contributions to society done by women are celebrated and appreciated. Even having a month shows how far women have gone to tread through history and leaving the legacy behind and earning the respect of others.
As a Latina, women have always been placed second to men. Women have always been under appreciated and continue to fight for their equality and closing the gaps in society. In my culture, as a Mexican and Salvadoran American woman, women are not as respected or even celebrated at such capacity. It’s pretty taboo to hear women being as respected as much as men are in Latin America. If anything, the main day we get is Mother’s Day when we celebrate one of the greatest powers women have: being able to procreate. We are more than that. Women are all over the STEM fields and the arts.
Having Women’s History Month is a hope for other girls to become inspired and leave their mark. They have come so far but the fight isn’t over.”
22 years old
4th year International Relations and Global Studies major
“I’ve never really celebrated it or acknowledged it growing up in Mexican culture. People just think differently in my hometown, but coming to Austin, Texas, I became more aware that it is something that is celebrated.
I think after the #MeToo movement people started paying more attention to things that happened to women. You mainly see women promoting it and men only celebrate if the women in their lives make it important to themselves.
I was recently in Korea and I mean, the celebration should be international, and feminists are frowned upon there. I don’t think in those places or even Mexico people care so much about it. Right now, in Korea, they are dealing with hidden cameras in women’s restrooms and hotel rooms and finding out that they are in these illicit websites without their consent.
I think International Women’s Month should be taken as an opportunity to talk about these prevalent issues. It humanizes women’s problems and opens that conversation and brings light to issues the women in our lives face on the daily.
I mean, it’s good to celebrate your mom and people around you that are close, but also, let’s try to celebrate other things or acknowledge that [crap] is happening and that it is generally women who are the victims of that.”
Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, University of Texas senior Rita J. Olivares Cervantes will be receiving her B.A. in English Literature and Language as well as Mexican American and Latina/o Studies this May. Her passion and pride for her Mexican roots are what continuously guide her as she writes for the preservation of our antepasados. She hopes to one day become a published author and help bring out the beauty of her culture and people.
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