Women: Exceptional, emboldened and enduring

This Women’s History Month, we asked staff members from the Women’s Resource Center to weigh in on some ways we can all celebrate the many historic and modern contributions of women. From what “SHEros” we need to know about, to the best shows and movies to watch that feature and celebrate women, here’s what they recommend.

Who is your SHEro and why? 

“One of my ‘SHEros’ is Edna Adan Ismail. She is such a trailblazer and an incredible example of using educational privilege to open doors for others, returning to her home country of Somaliland after studying and working abroad and using her skills to address needs in her community. She has made significant contributions in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in Somaliland through her hospital establishment and midwifery trainings, and I admire work she is doing to address traditional practices that harm mothers and children.”

“I think Stacey Abrams is one person I think of when I hear ‘SHEro.’ Her ability to engage voters and work tirelessly to get out the vote over the past four years is unprecedented. I appreciate her ability to look at the end game and chisel away barriers of voter suppression each and every day. I love this quote of hers, ‘Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: Out of our willingness to push through comes a tremendous power… use it.'”

Marija Gimbutas, Ph.D. The late Marija Gimbutas was an archaeologist at UCLA. She revolutionized our understanding of human history and culture going back to the upper Paleolithic period. She brought to light the context and culture around female figurines, dioramas and female burials which had been misgendered and/or dismissed by male archaeologists. She started a revolution in archaeology that is continuing today. Aside from her scholarly contributions in archaeological journals, she wrote several popular books which made her finds and theories available to the general reader.”

“My SHEro is Jamie Margolin. I admire the way she is setting a precedent for my generation to not be complacent in environmentally harmful and socially unjust practices. I also appreciate her openness about her identity as a Jewish and Latinx individual and member of the LGBTQ+ community. She reminds me of the importance of inclusion and accessibility in any movement, and especially in environmental activism, as it is easy to exclude and gaslight certain groups with the idea that environmental degradation harms everyone equally, which it does not.”

Nina Simone. She was a black musician who sang songs of love, protest and Black empowerment. She was friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, and performed at civil rights demonstrations. My song recommendations by her are the following.”

What are your show/movie recommendations to celebrate Women’s History Month? 

Who is a historical woman we need to know about? 

Celia Cruz. Cruz is a famous singer from Havana, Cuba, who overcame extreme obstacles to achieve security, stability, freedom and her dreams. As a young Afro Latina artist, she faced a lot of discrimination for the color of her skin. Regardless, she persevered and continued to break barriers as an artist. When Fidel Castro took over Cuba and her band toured Mexico on special permission, she and her bandmates decided to never return. In anger, Castro barred her from ever returning. Sadly, she left her entire family behind and had to make a new life for herself in the United States. She continued performing, helped popularize salsa music, and helped Afro Latin people embrace their heritage during the civil rights movement. Her perseverance, love for life and tenacity are aspirations I wish everybody could have.”

What does “empowered women empower women” mean to you? 

“When I hear the quote ’empowered women empower women,’ I think of love, strength and community. As individuals who identify as women, we have the power to make a difference in the world, especially when we choose to stand together and support each other to become our best selves.”

What is one thing everyone can do this month to honor and celebrate Women’s History Month? 

“Support their local women-owned businesses. You can find a list of them available in Salt Lake City here.”