Five Inspirational Stories for Women’s History Month

In 1987, March was declared Women’s History Month, a time to commemorate the vital role of women in shaping history. Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women of all backgrounds, to acknowledge the importance of their roles in our lives, and to support their efforts to make the world a better place. Women have shaped history through their leadership, courage, strength, and compassion. Although many of the contributions of women have been recognized and celebrated, women still face inequality in many aspects of their lives, reminding us that we have more work to do. As we celebrate the countless achievements made by women across all aspects of life, we must also support their fight towards social justice. Women’s History Month is a month for people of all genders to draw pride, comfort, courage, and inspiration.

As we celebrate the 33rd Women’s History Month, here are five reflections on women from various backgrounds that have inspired the lives of those within our diverse communities:

Ocean and his mother. (Photo courtesy of the author)

“My mother was born when an African American solider met a Vietnamese woman during the final years of the Vietnam War. After refusing to flee Vietnam with my grandfather to the United States, my grandmother gave her newborn baby to an orphanage, in fear for her own life. Luckily, my mother was found by my great-grandmother and taken back home. However, life in Vietnam was not easy for my mother who resembled her African American father, during a sensitive time of the Vietnam War. As a young kid, my mother remembers hiding under the flooring of her home from patrolling soldiers who searched the village for anyone who had affiliations with the Americans. Eventually, my mother met my father before emigrating to the United States in hopes of achieving a better life. Today, I am inspired by the stories of my mother’s journey to the United States. My mother epitomizes the characteristics of perseverance and resilience. She risked her life to fight for a better life for her family. I am forever grateful, thank you Mom.”  – Ocean Le, Program Associate, Diverse Elders Coalition

“As a daughter of refugees from Vietnam, I am blessed to stand on the shoulders of warriors – of women like my mother who fled her country at the age of 16, risking her life so that her future children could be free, and women like my grandmother who started her life over when she immigrated to the U.S. to be reunited with my mother, auntie, and uncle who all left as refugees, while also caring for my grandfather who passed away from Alzheimer’s. Today I am honored to continue their legacy of fighting for freedom and family.” – Quyen Dinh, President, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

“As an adolescent, my Lola helped care for her younger cousins while hiding in the mountains of the Philippines during the terror of World War II. She later went on to raise five children of her own as a single parent. Her third daughter — my mother — was the heartbeat of our home and has been an unwavering, comforting presence my entire life. Yet as I look back to my childhood, I wonder how she was always able to be so available when she worked such long, tiring nights as a registered nurse, often picking overtime shifts. Today, I strive to achieve her omnipresence as a working mother of three Filipino American children. I hope to raise them to know the strength of Filipinas and all women—so that my son could grow up to respect them as true equals, so that my daughters can grow up to realize their own power they wield.” – Elaine Sanchez Wilson, Director of Communications and Development, SEARAC

Roxane Gay in conversation with Rachel Zellars in Montreal, October 2015 by Eva Blue

“I saw Roxane Gay speak a few years ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and I felt like I was watching history in the making. If you don’t know Gay’s work – including An Untamed State, Hunger, World of Wakanda, and an endlessly thought-provoking series of New York Times columns – you should and you will. Her writing shines a light on the experiences of Black women, of fat women, of queer women, of survivors of sexual assault… the list of underrepresented voices goes on, and Gay has elevated them all. She has inspired a new generation of women to reclaim their time and tell their own stories, myself included.” – Jenna Mcdavid, National Managing Coordinator, Diverse Elders Coalition

“Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you, too, will keep encountering challenges. It is a blessing to be able to survive them, to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other—to be in a position to make the climb up life’s mountain, knowing that the summit still lies ahead. And every experience is a valuable teacher.”— Oprah Winfrey – Jenni Le, Ocean Le’s sister

The women in these stories and quotes come from different walks of life yet are equally important in inspiring the lives of the people in our diverse communities. As many of us can draw similarities between these women and the ones in our lives, their stories remind us of the importance of Women’s History Month as a time to celebrate women of all backgrounds, to acknowledge the importance of their roles in our lives, and to promote social justice. These reflections are a beacon of hope as we honor the past, inform the present, and motivate future generations to celebrate the many contributions made by women in all aspects of life.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.