Since 1987, March has been Women’s History Month. Bellevue College is using the opportunity to raise awareness about a series of issues that typically affect women, such as domestic violence and inequity in education. Throughout March, BC will offer movie showings, panels and discussions about these issues.
Christina Sciabarra, associate director of the Center for Career Connections, is one of the people behind the events that take place at BC in March. “This month is about feminism,” Sciabarra said. “It’s about what it is, if we need it and what it means to the individual. It’s about empowering women to confront issues that impact them or someone they know.”
Feminism is not only about women. Sciabarra said that equity, which is what the women’s movement is about, affects everyone, regardless of gender.
According to Sciabarra, while there are still prejudices and biases against women, especially in workplaces, this is a systematic problem. “It’s no one’s fault,” Sciabarra said. “It’s happened because of a collection of policies, laws and practices over a number of years – which means it will take a collection of policies, laws and practices over a number of years to change that. But I think there’s great progress at the moment.”
Another topic BC addresses is the history of the feminist movement. Rachel Wellman is BC’s Title IX coordinator and deals with campus issues about gender equality and gender discrimination. According to her, Women’s History Month is about how to keep moving forward. “We need to make sure we don’t repeat oppression,” Wellman said. “We’re still struggling, and it’s easy to see in the world. We still have conversations about people using the bathroom for the gender they identify with. Feminism is about making society a better place for everyone.”
Tess Ames, who works in Student Programs and has been part of the event planning this month, agreed. “While we work towards an equitable place, we aren’t there yet, and so we have to remember the struggles that are faced, where they come from and how we can use momentum to propel forward,” she said.
So how does BC seek to do this during Women’s History Month? According to Sciabarra, BC is trying to address issues that affect women’s ability to succeed, such as domestic violence. “Survivors have a harder time getting jobs and becoming financially independent,” she said. “Focusing on this might help people think about it and address the issue.”
One of the events BC arranged was “‘Walk’ a Mile in Her Shoes.” On March 2, students could follow a path of informative boards, each of which listed facts about and consequences of domestic violence. However, women are not the only victims. “Women are statistically more prominent as survivors of abuse, but men are not excluded,” said Sciabarra. While the name “‘Walk’ a Mile in Her Shoes,” places emphasis on “her,” they made sure to use gender neutral language, “because men can be victims as well,” explained Sciabarra.
Ames is optimistic that the events BC has arranged will make students reflect on feminism. According to her, the debate about the feminist movement on March 1 “saw some pretty heated conversation, and that means it matters.” She added, “We saw some students being asked to challenge their own epistemology, their own belief structures, and I think that’s really important. You come to college to critically analyze your own thoughts and those thoughts around you, and I think this is a great month to do so.”
More information about BC’s Women’s History Month events can be found on BC’s website.