International Women’s Day talk expands on “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Story and photos by Heather Hay

CNM promotes Women’s History Month, March, by hosting a talk about women rarely mentioned in history books, and to acknowledge the struggle women still face today to be heard, according to part time faculty sociology teacher Xeturah Woodley.

Nora Nixon, full time instructor and Chair of ESL: Integrative Reading and Writing, attended the event. She said she had heard that some schools had closed on Women’s Day, but that she was glad CNM was open and offering this lecture. She was texting her daughter, who attends college in San Jose, to wish her a happy International Women’s Day.

The talk on March 8th, began with an overview of a recent senate session that involved the suppression of a woman senator’s voice and provided an important current example, said Woodley.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to silence US Senator Elizabeth Warren by cutting her off during a speech she was giving on Feb 7th 2017, said Woodley.

Warren had attempted to read a letter from Corretta Scott King , because the letter had expressed her opposition to a nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986, she said.

However, after senator Warren was not allowed to speak, four of her male colleagues, two from New Mexico, were allowed to speak and they were permitted to read the exact same letter without being shut down, she said.

“I’m glad that they were able to use their male privilege in service of the vision of giving the women a voice.  But the idea that they had to use it because she was silenced is disturbing,” said Woodley.

Woodley went on to say that later that day Senator McConnell explained his actions stating the following “She was warned, she was given an explanation, nevertheless she persisted.”

“This happened February 7th, 2017.  People are always amazed when we talk about women not having equal voice and the continuation of gender disparity and gender oppression in 2017,” said Woodley.

Woodley explained how women throughout history have challenged oppression, and she highlighted eight women and gave sources on where to learn more about them, her links are provided.

Woodley mentioned influential Navajo Nation member Annie Dodge Wauneka who received many honors during her career and served on the advisory board for the surgeon general, and the US public health services, she said.  Her most prestigious honor was the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor conferred by the president in peace time from President Lyndon B Johnson in 1963, said Woodley.

Woodley also talked about Wangari Maathai, an environmental activist that founded the greenbelt movement in 1970s.  She said Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel peace prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

A book about Malala was on display at the Montoya library for the day. Woodley said The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan; in the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition.

Malala Yousafzai a spokesperson for Girls Rights to Education, survived a gunshot wound through her head, neck and shoulders from a Taliban member she said.

Woodley quoted Malala “Today we all know education is our basic right, not just in the west, Islam too has given us this right.  Islam says every girl and everybody should go to school.  In the Koran it says that God wants us to have knowledge.”

Other women mentioned include Shirley Chisholm , Gabrielle Coco Chanel , Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Annie Besant , Sojourner Truth Sor Juana  Inés de la Cruz , who is credited as the first published feminist in the New World who died in Mexico in 1695.

Woodley encouraged attendants to share on social media what they had learned at today’s talk by using the hashtag “Be Bold for Change,” because according to a quote by civil rights activist Audre Lorde ”Your silence will not protect you.”

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