By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
It’s the end of summer, which means we’re getting ready for cooler weather, a new school year, and the start of holiday season. For this week’s Top Five, our theme is new beginnings – posts and stories that helped us renew and inspired us to take on new challenges.
1. There are many ways to celebrate Labor Day this weekend: barbecues, trips to the beach, relaxing on a day off – but weekends and holidays weren’t always the norm, and still aren’t for many low-wage or service workers. This weekend, take a moment to learn about the historic fight for labor justice, and tell Congress that you support equal pay for women, a raise in the federal minimum wage, and comprehensive immigration reform as ways to protect our country’s workers.
Thirteen Ways to Celebrate Labor Day, by Jamilah King, Colorlines
The Dream is Now: This 30-minute, 2013 documentary tells the story of undocumented students forced into low-wage work because of their immigration status.
2. This past week, the United States celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – an event with special significance to the YWCA because our foremothers played important, but often unrecognized, roles in organizing and supporting both the March and the civil rights movement. Our own Rhonda Bishop wrote a poignant tribute to one of our most well-known leaders: Dr. Dorothy I. Height.
“I Leave You Love” – A Tribute to Dr. Dorothy I. Height, by Rhonda Bishop, YWCA USA
It is one of my proudest accomplishments to be working with the YWCA, where Dr. Height invested so much of her passion for helping others. Her legacy has inspired me to, with grace and dignity, affect change where I see it’s needed and to commit myself to a life of civic service.
3. YWCAs across the nation have programs encouraging girls and young women to explore their interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), such as the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s TechGYRLS program, or the YWCA Gettysburg’s STEM Savvy club and LEGO Robotics club for students at area schools. We hope that the world no longer believes that women are biologically unable to do math or science, but there are still people out there who think this way. This presentation by a female mathematician is your new rebuttal to that kind of misogyny.
Terri Oda is a mathematician who now works in computer science. She is also female. Weird, right?
4. For mothers, finding toys, books and media that send a positive message for girls can be one of the most difficult tasks they face. A Mighty Girl, an online store that sells “books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls” can help. By featuring products that have women and girls as protagonists, they help girls see themselves as leaders and heroes, instead of sidekicks and love interests.
“Girls Deserve to See Themselves as Main Characters,” by Molly Westerman, Bitch Magazine
It’s not just about fiction: a few prominent exceptions aside, children generally learn very little about famous women in their history classes. Even the suffrage movement is often just a textbook sidebar. History is full of amazing and interesting women, and girls need role models who can demonstrate that they too can aspire for greatness.
5. A vicious letter from a disgruntled neighbor to a mother whose son has autism went viral recently, and it broke the hearts of many to see such vitriol aimed at a family with a special needs child. The mother of the boy, Karla Begley, has responded with positivity and dignity, inspiring public support.
Karla Begley’s Touching Response To Hate Letter Targeting Her Son With Autism, by Meredith Bennett-Smith, Huffington Post
“People with special needs are people first,” she writes, continuing, “Instead of glares, I wish people would give smiles. Instead of anger toward parents, I wish people would be more understanding. Trust me, if there’s behavior ruining someone else’s day, it’s ruining mine and I want to deal with it!”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.