Friday, March 7, 2014

Celebrating International Women's Day

International Women's Day, March 8 is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday.  IWD is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

This year, on March 8, I will run a relay race with a team of accomplished women – both on and off the race course.  Four of the six of us are over 50 and took up running later in life.
Why didn’t we run on our high school track teams back in the day?  Because, back in the day, there were no girls track teams in our high schools.  Title IX, which states in part that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...” was signed into law in 1972. 

I graduated in 1974.  Just for fun, I looked at my senior year book and found the athletics pages.  There were a few girls athletics teams featured.  Girls played basketball and volleyball.  Our school had a girl’s gymnastics team.  And of course, we played powder puff football.  There were no girls swimming, golf, tennis, softball or track teams.   My sister in law wasn’t too far off when she said, “there weren’t any sports for me to play so I had to be a cheerleader.”
Thankfully, Title IX paved the way for girls to excel not only in athletics, but in the traditionally all-male math, science and engineering fields that girls were all too often dissuaded from.  Our daughters have equal opportunity to participate.  And while the movement that founded International Women’s Day and the legislation of Title IX are completely separate, I can’t help but think that the brave women who took a stand for equality are smiling down on today’s female athletes.

And they’ll be smiling on team "Girls' Day Out" as we cross the finish line strong.

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