FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT’S SEAT
Women Shaping History
Every March, our country observes Women’s History Month, a celebration of the innumerable contributions that women have made to American history, society and culture.
Officially established in 1987, Women’s History Month traces its origins as far back as 1911, when the first National Women’s Day was celebrated across the United States on February 28. These early holidays were often marked by large protests demanding better working conditions for women, as well as voting rights. It is still hard to believe that women in the United States were not granted the right to vote until 1920, and that it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that women in most western societies began to enjoy the same legal and political rights afforded to men.
This year’s presidential election presents a fine opportunity to illustrate to our daughters and sons alike how much our world has progressed in such a short period of time. We can use this occasion to explain to them how significant it is that votes may soon be cast for one woman, when not very long ago, millions of women could not cast one vote.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has broken new ground in American society. As first lady of the United States, she played a role in public policy and became the only first lady ever to run for public office when she was elected to the United States Senate in 2000. Since that time, she has been one of our most important political leaders, and has come closer to the presidency than any other woman in history.
I believe it is very important for parents and educators to help young women understand the struggles and achievements of women throughout our history so that they can recognize what they are truly capable of, and how limitations can be overcome with commitment and dedication. Ms. Clinton sets an example to our children of what a woman can accomplish in our country, but she is only one of many remarkable women to do so. Consider another of my personal favorites, the great novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, who defected from the Soviet Union to become one of the most prominent and controversial writers of the 20th century. Indeed, there have been few others in history, male or female, who spoke their mind as vigorously as Ms. Rand did.
Similarly, our young women can look to the example set by Betty Friedan, the noted writer and activist who sparked the second wave of feminism in the 1960s with her book, “The Feminine Mystique.” Ms. Friedan also co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Each of these women and countless others have played a critical role in shaping American history and there will be many more to follow.#
Dr. Carole G. Hankin is the Superintendent of Schools, Syosset Central School District.