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Women’s History Month: Reflections on Growth and the Need to Do More
by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Women's History Month is a time to think about the ways in which women have shaped the course of history—as well as the struggles they have faced in the ongoing journey to achieving equality and recognition for our contributions. This month, it is important to not only celebrate women but to also acknowledge the impact of healthcare costs on mothers of children with special needs as well as the history of the suffrage movement that led to some women's rights to vote while others had to wait even longer for this basic right.
First, let’s start with some realities for the food allergy community. For many mothers of children with special needs, healthcare costs can be overwhelming. Caring for a child with health concerns such as life-threatening food allergies can require expensive doctor’s visits, testing, and at times, emergency room visits, and insurance coverage is often inadequate. This financial burden can be especially difficult for single mothers or those with lower incomes. Some mothers have had to quit their jobs to care for their children full-time, losing valuable income and benefits. The lack of affordable healthcare options for families with special needs highlights the importance of policy changes and support for these families.
Another important aspect of women’s history is the women’s suffrage movement, which culminated in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920—a landmark achievement for women's rights. However, this movement focused primarily on the rights of white, middle-class women. Women of color, particularly black women, faced additional barriers to voting, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation.
Despite these obstacles, black women played an important role in the suffrage movement. Their tenacity paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which abolished discriminatory voting practices and ensured that all citizens had equal access to the ballot box. This too was not a flawless piece of legislation. The Voting Rights Act has had to be renewed several times to continue to protect the right to vote for African Americans, and in many parts of the country, people of color continue to face significant obstacles to exercising their right to vote.
As we reflect on these important aspects of women's history, we must also consider the ongoing struggles that women face today. Healthcare costs remain a significant burden for many families, no matter who heads the household, and access to affordable healthcare continues to be a contentious issue. Voter suppression, particularly targeting communities of color, remains a serious threat to democracy. And while women have made great strides in achieving political representation and leadership roles, gender inequality persists in many areas of our society.
This Women's History Month, let us celebrate the achievements of the women who came before us, while also acknowledging the work that remains to be done. By working together to address issues such as healthcare costs and voting rights, we can continue to build a more equitable and just society for all women and families.