International Women’s Month

By the women of the Chrysalis blog writing group

Each March we celebrate International Women’s Month. This month-long recognition reminds us to highlight women’s achievements and continue to discuss women’s empowerment and gender equality commitments. This month, and the 11 other months of the year, Chrysalis celebrates ALL women–especially Black women, women of color, queer women, trans women, and immigrant women. The women of the Chrysalis blog writing group spent time sharing with one another stories of influential women in their lives, discussing what being a woman means to them, and sharing how they are influential women. Below are some of these accounts: 

There have been many amazing women in my life–my grandmother Mary was one of them. Recently passed, it occurred to me what an awe inspiring life she led. Born into a farm family in 1933, she was set to work at the age of 3 washing dishes for a houseful of men; and took on farm labor soon afterward. 

A lover of education and books, she attended business college after high school; studying administration and accounting–majors not common with women at the time. For her, secondary education was a must. Reminiscing her last day of high school she said that she cried on the bus ride home thinking that her academic life was over.

She was a great example to generations after her. Along with mothering four children and leading a successful 65 year marriage, Mary had a long and successful work life. She truly believed a woman did not have to choose between a career and family–she could do both or either. In this way, in my opinion, she was a true feminist; believing a woman could do anything in her heart or mind.

During her lifetime my grandmother worked at the Texas Electric Company, did the bookkeeping at a bank for over twenty years and finished her work life at a general practice physician’s office. Caring for the public she told me that she would telephone bank customers before they overdrafted their accounts; giving them time to deposit funds before a fine was issued. She truly was a loving person. 

I followed her example, going to college with a business major. In my family I was taught that a life is what a person makes out of it. Grandma Mary was an excellent role model in what a strong woman is. I hope to follow her footsteps, leaving a mark after I am gone.

~Tina, CAC Member and blog writing group

Being a woman means quite a few things to me. Due to my own past, relationship with myself and other women in my life, I have somewhat constantly worked-shopped what being a woman means to me throughout my life.
At this point to me, being a woman means, people like doctors will not take you as seriously or treat you the same way, it means certain life choices and roles will be assumed for you, it means too often you have to advocate for yourself twice as hard just to be taken seriously, it means being assumed to be weaker or more vulnerable, it means being asked too much of in one area and totally underestimated or even looked over in another.
Thankfully, now in my life I am able to see the dichotomy that women can hold within them.
Because aside all that, being a woman means we have profound capability to deal with and overcome those things. Being a woman means, even though we encounter doctors who don’t take us seriously, we know ourselves better than any doctor or person that is trying to assume our experience in our own bodies or tell us how we feel. Being a woman means you have the same right as anyone else to get the answers and attention you require from a doctor.
Being a woman means you can choose whatever life path, roles and scenarios you want to make for yourself, no matter what anyone, your family, friends, or society thinks. Being a woman means not accepting the rude and antiquated things like being talked over or assumed to be weak or vulnerable; it’s flipping the assumors on their heads and showing them that being a woman means being strong. Strong in every way. 

As women, we hold so much power. For all the power that has been taken away from women over history, to the power that is still presently stifled in women by antiquated societal norms; we have at least double. Being a woman means having the strength and power to overcome injustices and push on through all of life as our authentic, powerful, selves. 

~Darby, CAC Member and blog writing group

One reason I am an influential woman is that I have my paintings up on display around Madison Wisconsin; I have shown in galleries, coffee shops and local businesses. My paintings feature bright colors and textures. I have openly shared my recovery story and how my art has helped me through some dark times. My talent is touring darkness to light and showing this process through paints and colors. I hope to influence those who look at my art to feel inspired! 

~Jenny King, Employment Specialist and Vocational Peer Specialist

Before the month is over, we hope you take the time to journal, reflect, or talk with your friends and family about the influential women in your life and how you can honor and recognize the strength, persistence, and ingenuity of ALL women!