In recognition of Women’s History Month, The Garden Island is profiling a series of important women in American history on the FYI page all this month.
Pat Hunter-Williams and Anna E. McKenna, co-chairs of the Kaua‘i County Committee on the Status of Women, noted that despite the fact that several Olympic competitors are household names, like Michelle Kwan, Sasha Cohen and others, women were not even allowed to compete in the Olympics until 1918.
In addition to the profiles of women to appear on the FYI pages this month, the committe, which is seeking additional women and men to serve on the committee, is also hosting the Hawai‘i premier today of “A Hero for Daisy,” to show at 6 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Community College Technology Building, room 114.
The film is the story of two-time U.S. Olympian and 1986 world-champion rower Chris Ernst, and will serve to inspire and reaffirm the need for upholding landmark legislation co-authored by the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O‘ahu, which requires males and females to receive equal treatment in all arenas of schooling, including athletics.
The showing is free and open to the public.
The rise in today’s female participation in sports can he traced in part back to 1972, with the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was renamed for Mink after her death in 2002.
Title IX was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students of federally-funded educational institutions, requiring leaders of such institutions to maintain policies, practices and programs that do not discriminate against anyone based on gender.
The goal of equity in athletics is to provide male and female athletes with equivalent treatment, benefits and opportunities, yet the law has been weakened by an “escape clause” which allows leaders of educational institutions to use a survey to determine women’s interests in participating in sports.
“A Hero for Daisy” is Ernst’s story of her days on the Yale rowing crew, and her response when faced with inequity. In 1976, Yale officials were behind the curve in enforcing Title IX. Lacking locker-room facilities in a boathouse half an hour away from campus, members of the women’s rowing team would wait after practices on an unheated bus, shivering from both the cold river water and their own sweat, as the members of the men’s team showered.
Frustrated by the unfairness and health dangers, the women rowers eventually undertook a protest to make their situation known.
Led by Ernst, teammates marched into the athletic director’s office and stripped, exposing 19 bodies emblazoned with the phrase “Title IX.” The media coverage that followed their act of rebellion led to public pressure to provide locker rooms and showers for these female athletes.
Introducing the film and providing further information on Title IX will be Kimberlee Bassford of Making Waves Films of Honolulu, who is gathering information and support for a documentary, “Ahead of the Majority,” about the life and times of Mink, the first woman of color in the U.S. Congress.
For more information, call Hunter-Williams, 639-0888, or the mayor’s office, 241-6300.