Women's and Girls' HERstory

Girls in India
Girls in India. PHOTO: Flickr/Gustaffo89
Girls in Gaza
A group of girls at the women’s center of a refugee camp in Palestine.
PHOTO: Flickr/Omar Chatriwala

About 50% of the world’s population are girls and women. Women have played an important role throughout history. Women have always struggled. Women have worked the toughest jobs—in clothing and pecan factories, doing house cleaning, babysitting and cooking. Women have resisted in a lot of ways, too. Women and girls have stood up to sexism and demanded voting rights and reproductive rights. This struggle still continues today.

This is the symbol for feminism. The raised fist represents strength in numbers and standing up for women's rights. The circle with the cross is the universal symbol for female, and comes from the astrological symbol for the planet Venus. IMAGE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN
This is the symbol for feminism. The raised fist represents strength in numbers and standing up for women’s rights. The circle with the cross is the universal symbol for female, and comes from the astrological symbol for the planet Venus. IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

They Struggled Back Then…

IMAGE: jura.org.au
IMAGE: jura.org.au

International Women’s Day: March 8, 1908
International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on March 8. Women initiated the day in the early 1900s as a way to honor women who were mistreated and undervalued in society. On March 8, 1908, around 15,000 women protested in New York City to demand shorter working hours, better salaries and voting rights. Since then, many countries designated March 8 as an official holiday to honor women’s rights.

Mourners paying their respects to the victims of the triangle shirtwaist factory fire in March, 1911. PHOTO: Flickr/Kheel Center, Cornell University

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory: March 25, 1911
On Saturday, March 25, 1911, two days before she would turn 18, Rose Rosenfeld walked to her job at the Triangle Waist Company. She made blouses called shirtwaists from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with only 30 minutes for lunch.

On March 25, 1911, a couple of people on the eighth floor heard a small explosion. Then someone yelled “fire!” Just about 500 people were in the Triangle Factory that day. Rose was one of the 250 people on the ninth floor. Everyone panicked and tried to go down the stairs. Rose ran upstairs. The company’s executives were on the tenth floor. Rose figured they would have an escape route. When she got to the 10th floor, she followed people up to the roof. From there, rescuers on an adjacent building pulled them to safety.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was one of the deadliest disasters in New York City’s history. Managers had locked the doors to prevent workers from stealing or taking breaks and the workers couldn’t escape. 146 workers died. Most of the victims were young immigrant women. The disaster helped lead to the formation of The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, an organization of workers fighting for better wages and conditions. The union still exists today and is called Workers United.

ILLUSTRATION: Gabriela Szpunt

Title IX Brings More Equality for Girls in Sports
In 1972, a law was passed called Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title IX had a huge impact on athletics. Before Title IX, much more public money was going to sports programs for boys than for girls. With Title IX, equal opportunities, including access to quality equipment, facilities and training, had to be offered to boys and girls.

But the Struggle Isn’t Over…

How Much Money Does She Make?
In the United States, for every $1.00 a man earns:
A woman earns $0.77
An African American woman earns $0.68
A Latina woman earns $0.59
An Asian American woman earns $0.87

Source: National Committee on Pay Equity

This girl is one of the few girls in her coed little league. Photo: flickr/.sanden
This girl is one of the few girls in her coed little league.
PHOTO: Flickr/.sanden

Girl Kicked off Little League Team for Being a Girl
In 1974, girls won the right to play little league baseball. Today, they still face challenges to playing baseball. In January, Yahoo Sports News reported that a Texas youth baseball coach admitted that 7-year-old Anna Kimball is a better player than some boys on the team. But that didn’t stop the coach from booting her from the squad. Anna can’t play on the team because she is a girl. The coach wants to move the team to a more competitive league, and in that league, girls are not allowed to play.

Click here to learn more about women in sports.

PHOTO: Amanda Vender
Filipino immigrant women rally for their rights in New York City. PHOTO: Amanda Vender

Women Migrant Workers Fight for Better Conditions
About 1,569,500 Filipinos leave the Philippines (a country in Southeast Asia) every year in the hope of finding a better life. Poverty in their home country forces them to find work abroad. 70 percent of Filipino migrants are women and 90 percent of them are working as domestic workers. They work as babysitters and housekeepers. The pay is low and most of the time the salary isn’t paid in full, according to a 2010 study of Filipino migrants in New York City by the DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association and The Urban Justice Center. In other words, it’s slavery all over again.

Juana and Lydia, two domestic workers and members of DAMAYAN, spoke to IndyKids Kid Reporters. They are trying to let the world know that Filipino domestic workers need to be treated fairly. Juana worked for her employer for six months. She never got days off and had to work for about seventy hours a week. Finally, she quit. Lydia said, “We want to be known. We also want to be treated fairly.”
-By ROBERT IVKO, age 12

Ways to Recognize Sexism
If you notice any of these things happening around you, speak up for the rights of girls and women!

1. When someone tells a girl that she cannot play “boy activities.”
2. If you are a girl and a teacher calls your house more than the kids who cause mischief
3. A teacher calls on a male student more often than he or she calls on a female student.
4. When a school uses textbooks that minimize the contributions of women.
5. When a boy does something wrong and the teacher says, “Boys will be boys.”


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