How Saint Martin’s University Celebrates Women’s History Month

Kayla May, Staff Writer

“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” – G.D. Anderson.

This quote by writer and feminist G.D. Anderson embodies what Women’s History Month is about, celebrating women’s contributions to history, culture, and society.

It originated in 1978 in Sonoma, California when the Education Task Force planned and executed a Women’s History Week, including dozens of school presentations, a “Real Women” essay contest, and a parade.

This celebratory week became popular and gained support nationwide, leading to President Jimmy Carter declaring the week National Women’s History Week in 1980. By 1987, after petitioning Congress, the Women’s History Project successfully expanded this week to be the entire month of March.

Since then, every March, the country has used this month to celebrate the women in our lives who contribute to society in big and small ways.

Some of the women who never go unnoticed during March are those whose words and actions have had lasting effects on our country, such as Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.

Saint Martin’s University uses this month to educate students about inspiring women, as well as support women within our community.

Some ways the university is doing this is through club sponsored events. On Wednesday, March 15th, the Society of Women Engineers hosted CPT Wendy Lawrence, a NASA astronaut, as she talked about her experiences.

A new club on campus, The Womxn of Color Allegiance, hosted an event on Friday, March 19th. “Womxn with Drive: Cherishing Our Roots” included a panel of women of color talking about their experiences, locally women-owned business vendors, and student performances.

This club was founded in October of 2022. Its members sought to leave a legacy at SMU and wanted to do with an event that could empower women of color and give them a safe place to hang out, share their experiences and support one another, explains club president Victorya Esperanza.

The event also supported SafePlace Olympia, a domestic violence service provider and 24-hour Community Sexual Assault Program for Thurston County. Instead of charging an admission fee, WOCA asked for donations to SafePlace, such as hygiene products, winter/rain clothes, bottled water, or gift cards/gas cards.

When the Belltower interviewed and asked how Esperanza connected with the vendors, she told me that most of them were personal connections such as friendships. One of the vendors was Esperanza’s friend from kindergarten, another a current classmate at SMU, and another a friend of instructor Jenny Serpa who served on the speaking panel. This exemplifies the main goal of the event: to support and connect small and locally owned businesses with members of the community.

Esperanza and began discussing the future of WOCA’s role in Women’s History Month celebrations at SMU. The hope for this event is to have it be annual, ideally on International Women’s Day. They would like to support a different organization each year, specifically ones that support women of color.

“We hope for this to be our legacy that we leave at the school, even after all of us are gone and graduated,” Esperanza explained of her and her fellow club members.

SMU has a student population with a gender distribution that is 61% female. With more than half of the university being women, it is important that we embrace what Women’s History Month is all about, celebrating and uplifting the women in our lives and community.