EFFINGHAM — March is Women’s History Month and the Effingham Public Library is celebrating with a series of programs and talks focused on women’s history and women in the Effingham area.
“I think it’s important our community recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in our community and our society,” said Johnna Schultz, the library’s assistant director. “Societies are better when we all contribute.”
Throughout the month, the library will be hosting casual interviews on its Facebook page every Friday featuring businesswomen in downtown Effingham.
Rachael Tieffel, owner of The Whistling Kettle Tea Shoppe, will be featured on March 19. When asked about what she would want to talk about, she said she hadn’t decided, but was thinking of bringing up her store’s collection of Yunnan teas.
Barbara Schuette, owner and yoga instructor at The Lotus Room, is looking forward to the informal interview. She’ll be featured on March 12.
Financial literacy is also on the schedule at the library, with a program oriented specifically for teens and young women.
“Women live longer, we don’t earn as much, and a lot of us aren’t as comfortable with money,” said Schultz.
“Money Management for Young Women” is a virtual program being offered on March 11 by Julie Everett, an Effingham-area financial planner with Financial Finesse.
“It’s a topic I’ve spoken on before and I work as a financial planner,” said Everett. She added there are specific issues women should consider when planning for the future.
“When you look at the statistics, women are more likely to take a more conservative route when it comes to investing. Women are more likely to contribute less to their retirement, more likely to contribute more to household expenses,” Everett said. “There is well documented data to support the idea of the wage gap.”
Women also tend to live longer. Long-term care in old age can deplete savings quickly, according to Everett. She also pointed out that, though targeted to young women, all are welcome.
“It would be absolutely wonderful if the spouses of the women who are signing up would come, too,” she said. “It is absolutely open to everyone.”
The library is also hosting actress and librarian Laura Keyes for an educational program called “Mrs. Lincoln: The First ‘First Lady.’” The event, also held via Zoom, is a blend of lecture, play, and living museum.
Keyes, who acts as an “interpreter,” portrays historical women in full period attire. Her program will feature Mary Todd Lincoln describing what her life was like and describing Civil War-era history from Lincoln’s perspective.
For more information about the library’s programs go to the “Events & News” section of the library’s website effinghamlibrary.org.
Schultz added that, while this year’s schedule is already set, in the future she hopes to highlight the history of women in Effingham County. She pointed out Ada Kepley became the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school in 1870. Kepley was a women’s suffrage and temperance activist who worked alongside Frances Willard and Susan B. Anthony at the same time as running youth-focused organizations in Effingham County.
Women’s History Month has its roots in feminist movements to recognize an International Women’s Day on March 8 in the early 20th Century. Over time, that expanded to become Women’s History Week and eventually Women’s History Month.
In the United States, every President since 1988 has issued a proclamation each year that March is Women’s History Month.
“Throughout American history, women and girls have made vital contributions, often in the face of discrimination and undue hardship,” said President Joe Biden in this year’s proclamation. “Courageous women marched for and won the right to vote, campaigned against injustice, shattered countless barriers, and expanded the possibilities of American life.”