Examining the past and changing the future: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Our community is celebrating the vital role of women in American history and present in March for Women’s History Month. Women have faced and continue to experience inequalities and challenges due to gender discrimination and bias in society. However, women of color, women with disabilities, transgender women and other marginalized women’s gender-based challenges are often compounded by racism, ableism, transphobia, heterosexism and other forms of oppression, making it harder for them to navigate their way to the top and be successful. During Women’s History Month, we must recognize that diverse groups of women experience different forms of oppression.

Northern Arizona University and the NAU Foundation want to provide financial assistance to deserving single mothers, promote and advocate for gender equity, parity and inclusivity, foster a diverse, safe and welcoming campus environment and help to create a family-friendly community. They have been able to accomplish these goals through the Martha Portree Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Scholarship.

Martha Jean Portree was a member of the NAU community from December 2000 to July 2007. At only 40 years old, Portree died in a car accident in Flagstaff on July 7, 2007. At Cline Library, she served as a reference services librarian and was known for her dedication and library expertise. She enjoyed helping students and faculty with challenging research questions. Portree was a tireless advocate of the NAU Commission on the Status of Women’s mission, and she played an active and important role in the work of CSW on behalf of women on the NAU campus. In 2003, she helped create an annual Commission on the Status of Women scholarship for single mothers who excel academically. The CSW renamed the scholarship in Martha’s honor in 2007.

Donations to the Martha Portree CSW Scholarship fund open on March 1 on the NAU Foundation website.

In addition to the scholarship, NAU is hosting events throughout March to celebrate Women’s History Month with the whole community. The value of sharing the diverse stories of women provides all of us—regardless of our gender and other identities—the power and inspiration to flourish. Knowing women’s history enables us to understand the past more clearly, and understanding the context provides power to change the future. Details for each event can be found below and on the CSW website.

March 8, 1-2:30 p.m. – Declarations of Desire: A Home-Making

On International Women’s Day, CSW and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies are hosting a conversation with Zimbabwean-American theater and performance artist Rebecca Mwase (they/she). They are also a ritualist, creative consultant, producer, facilitator and cultural organizer working at the intersection of art and social justice. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link.

March 22, 5:30-7 p.m. – Breaking Down Stigmas: Imagining Global Reproductive Empowerment

A virtual webinar and panel sponsored by the Commission on the Status of Women, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative. A link to register for the Zoom is forthcoming.

March 24, 5 p.m. – No More Miss America: The Pageant Turns 100

Guest speaker Micki McElya examines American politics and culture through the lens of the Miss America Pageant, the Miss Black America Pageant, feminism, the Civil Rights Movement, evangelicalism and the New Right in post-World War II America. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link.

March 28 – Fifth Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Essay, Poetry and Art Contest

A contest for Coconino County middle and high school students. Entries are due March 28.

April 6-8 – Bridging Divides: Building Constructive Collaborations

The annual conference for Arizona Women in Higher Education (AWHE) will be held virtually this year. The AWHE conference brings professionals together to navigate the changing landscape of higher education, discuss the critical issues impacting their work, expand professional skills and network with colleagues. The registration and schedule are available on the AWHE website.

Northern Arizona University LogoMaddie Blunier | NAU Communications

NAU Communications