On Tuesday, March 20, the North Pod was home to a cappella performances, feminist trivia, Rosie the Riveter photoshoots and advocacy work, all part of the Women’s History Month celebration hosted by the Women’s Resource Center and the Feminist Collective.
Though both organizations are active in promoting women’s rights and health on campus, this event was the first of its kind. “Our big things are the Vagina Monologues in February and Diversity Week in March, and we wanted to do something for Women’s History Month as well,” Meghan Frisard said. Frisard is a fourth-year zoology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies student and co-chair of the Feminist Collective. Frisard wanted to put together an event that would involve women’s groups all across campus, not just activist groups, and organized the Women’s History Month celebration alongside co-chair Taylor Cray, second-year political science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies student.
Groups involved in the event included Women in Economics, UMaine Renaissance and Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Maine, women-centric organizations that represent different areas of women’s interests and needs at the University of Maine and throughout the state.
“As a group of all women, we’ve done gigs specific to just women,” Brooke Pietri, second-year music education student and member of Renaissance, the University of Maine’s all-female a cappella group, said.
A subsection of the University Singers, Renaissance’s 11 members have formed close bonds, and recognize the importance of strong female friendships in their lives. “We have our own support system within our group, but not every girl on campus does,” Pietri said. Although they only had half of their members in attendance, Renaissance performed three a cappella covers throughout the event.
The Women’s History Month celebration marked the first collaboration between UMaine and ERA Maine, an organization dedicated to the ratification of an amendment to provide equal protection to women under the law. The organization was represented by Susan Snider and Linda Nelson, who have been with ERA Maine since its conception in 2016. “We just don’t get why equal rights are a partisan issue,” Snider said. “Second wave feminism helped to lessen the impact of patriarchy, but without the equal rights amendment we’re fighting a real battle.”
“Second wave feminism” began in the early 1960s in the United States with the goal to gain greater equality for women with men by allowing them to have more than just the right to vote. Here, the goal was to allow rights on domestic issues and employment, whereas first wave feminism focused mainly on women’s suffrage and property rights.
While the organization is pushing for a federal amendment, Snider and Nelson see a Maine amendment as a more realistic initial goal. Maine is one of the 36 states that have agreed to an equal rights amendment nationally, but it hasn’t been written in Maine’s state constitution.
Both women were excited to be part of the event, recognizing the need to reach out to college students. “It’s important to get young people involved and educated,” Snider said. “The best way to fight this is to vote, and many of you are voting for the first time.”
The month of March is full of campus activities and individual events surrounding Women’s History Month, and this celebration brought together a variety of groups representing various aspects of womanhood on campus.