women's history month Archives - Athletes for Hope

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In Her Own Words: Aubri James on Women’s History Month

In Her Own Words: Aubri James on Women’s History Month

Aubrion “Aubri” James is a fifth-year senior on the Southern University Lady Jags Softball team. She is also in her first year of graduate school pursuing a Master of Business Administration. Originally from Madison, Alabama, Aubri has been playing softball since she was five years old and in her free time she loves to read, worship, and get “dolled” up. She is currently an AFH Intern. 

On both sides of my family both of my grandmother’s had 10+ siblings (majority sisters).  My paternal grandmother died a year before I was born.  Her name was Bertha James and before she died, she told my parents that they would have a baby girl.  They say I get my “mouth” from my grandmother because she always spoke her mind.  Even though I never got to meet her, she left behind many strong sisters.  These women I get to call my great aunts have accomplished amazing things.  They were educators, leaders, and held positions of power.  My aunts on my dad’s side always pushed me to further my education and I may not have understood then, but now I realize that women like themselves did not have the opportunity to learn back in the day.  They continued to defy stereotypes and push for something they knew they were capable of obtaining.  My maternal grandmother, Ruthie Robinson, died when I was 13 years old, so I had more time with her.  Ruthie was a caretaker.  My most clear memories of her were when we would come down on Sundays and she always had dinner ready for us and the house was always clean.  She was the glue that held our family together.  As women I do not think we get enough credit for having traits that keep a lot of shows going.

Women’s History Month is essential in today’s world.  We talk a lot about diversity and making sure that organizations are being equally inclusive, but we do not talk a lot about representation.  Being a black woman, in the sport of softball particularly, growing up I did not see very many black girls on a team.  I spent my career always being one of two maybe three, if not the only, black girl on the teams I played on.  According to my faith, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Representation can help a person see that someone like them is doing it, so they can too because they really can as long as they have Christ by their side.  History needs to be documented, so that young girls can see how strong we are as a species.  We have overcome many gender biases in all aspects of life, and we can continue to leave our mark as women.

Women can literally do anything.  We cook, we clean, and we even play sports including football!  Society sometimes looks at women’s sports as not entertaining and use that for the reason why we should not be afforded the same opportunities as men.  I truly believe that we work just as hard as men.  We have early mornings and late nights.  We have injuries.  So, my question is why can’t we have our own locker rooms, why can’t we have weights, and get the treatment that men get?  When people are set up for success, I believe they are more likely to succeed.  Being a fifth-year senior in my sport I want to applaud all women because we always find a way to make it happen with or without anyone’s help.  I have seen firsthand gender inequality, and every team that I have ever been a part of found a solution…on our own.

My advice to our community is to continue to give recognition to our special accomplishments.  Help women to know that they are valued and appreciated for everything they do.  Women, let’s continue to call out inequality and bias.  Do not be afraid to bring to light any injustices that you face because the only way that we can gain the respect we deserve is by standing up and speaking out.

In Her Own Words

Why We All Need to Celebrate Women’s History

by Gwen Jorgensen

Women’s History Month is a time to honor women, past and present, who have made the world a better place. Women have always been present on Earth, but not always recognized. Women behind the scenes need to be seen. Toys, shows, and media portray women in certain roles which leads to a never-ending cycle of generations brainwashed into thinking women should only do certain things. The reality is women have paved the way for others for years. Women fought for others to work, vote, run and be seen. WHM is all about celebrating that freedom.

It used to be thought that women would literally die if they ran too long. In 1967, Katherine Switzer proved this wrong as the  first woman to run a marathon and survive. We now know women are actually better than men at running longer distances. What other assumptions do we consciously and subconsciously make about women that are absurdly incorrect? 

Gwen Jorgenson stands outside, looking into the camera with a slight smile with her arms crossed.

The reality is women have paved the way for others for years. Women fought for others to work, vote, run and be seen. WHM is all about celebrating that freedom.

Gwen Jorgenson

In college I remember being constantly reminded that I was only able to run at a D1 school because of the football team. Even though our women’s volleyball and hockey teams brought in money, outsiders didn’t acknowledge this. We were made, as women, to feel inferior. After college I started in the sport of triathlon, which was paving the way for equality in race payouts. Men and women were paid the same at events, something that should not be a novelty. Although there was equal pay from prize money, sponsorships and contracts are where the majority of money is made and this information is sealed. No one can prove that men are making more money than women. I believe there are still plenty of ways to close the gender inequality gap. For example, in the Ironman triathlon distance more men than women are invited to race. We have come a long way since 1920 when women gained the right to vote, but we still have a long way to go before we see true equality.

I hope you will join me in speaking out and up for women’s rights in sports that need our help most: USA soccer and basketball to name a few. Join me in advocating for women’s rights through educating ourselves and others about gender inequality and through purchases at women-owned businesses. Lastly, make sure to watch women’s sports. March Madness isn’t just for men. Women are playing too. Make sure to fill out a Women’s March Madness bracket and tune in to all the games for exciting, riveting entertainment.

With your help we can break barriers in stereotypes.

Gwen Jorgensen is an Olympic distance runner and former professional triathlete. She was the 2014 and 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Champion, was named USA Triathlon’s 2013 and 2014 Olympic/ITU Female Athlete of the Year and represented the United States in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, winning the USA’s first ever triathlon Gold medal in 2016. She has been an AFH Member Athlete for over 5 years. Learn more about Gwen here.