For the year 2023, the theme for Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” This theme is an ode to the power of storytelling throughout history and in current news.
Why is storytelling so important?
Storytellers were the original historians. They are the reason we know of past events and the importance of each of them. Whether they were good, bad, or just significant, these stories create opportunities of learning. This also can provide cultural strength and a sense of identity to know what one’s ancestors endured, accomplished, or survived.
Supports advocacy efforts and enacts change.
Stories provide transparency for identifying the faults in systems and the strength of those surviving within them. They serve as motivation for the advocacy efforts, because they help provide meaning behind why change needs to occur.
Creates a sense of community.
Storytelling allows for those listening to feel as though they are not alone. Telling stories and hearing stories allows for individuals to find the similarities between their stories and others. This provides a sense of affiliation and deeply-felt empathy. Speaking up and the subsequent sense of camaraderie allows for groups to form and grow, making them more powerful and influential for positive change.
Provides stories of strength and hope.
Hearing that a part of your own story has been experience in similar ways by others may be the spark of courage needed for you to find your voice and share your own story. Even just hearing about others’ resilience and strength is an empowering experience, due to knowing that people have survived and thrived and that possibility is available to you as well.
Who gets to tell their story?
An important aspect to consider with this theme is that not every woman has the ability or same opportunity to tell their story. Many times, the women that do have that opportunity have access to different types of media and resources to broadcast their story to reach a larger audience. They have likely been educated and are able in language and/or writing to have the ability to tell their story in an effective way, and are likely a part of a larger or more dominant group where their peers provide support and networking opportunities.
The women who do not have these same opportunities are often overlooked, sometimes silencing their stories. Some women may also not feel safe enough to tell their story. This can be due to the current political climate, cultural systems, or their current environment being unsafe.
With this in mind, it is important for those who are able to share their story to do so, in hopes that this will help create a space where more will have that same opportunity. It is also equally important to uplift those who are not able to share their stories by supporting advocacy efforts and working towards providing safe spaces to those who need them most.