By ROB W. ANDERSON
For 132 years, the American Association of University Women has promoted equity and education for women of all ages. The nonprofit organization takes positions on social, economic, educational and political issues and has a mission to protect the rights and advancement of all females.
The AAUW Tahlequah Branch is celebrating its diamond anniversary this year and will be honoring local “Women of Distinction” at the AAUW 75th Anniversary Award dinner on Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m. at the Northeastern State University Branscum Alumni Center, 812 N. Cedar Ave.
The AAUW Tahlequah Branch began taking nominations May 20 for women from the present or past who embody the mission of AAUW, and the nominee can be deceased or living. Deadline for the recommendation is Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m., said Peggy Glenn, AAUW Tahlequah Legal Advocacy Fund and Education Opportunities Fund chairwoman.
“After 75 years, we wanted to do something to honor all of the women who have made our existence possible,” Glenn said. “When you look back at the history of NSU, for example, starting from a female seminary, you see that women had quite an influence in Tahlequah, even over a century ago. So we want to honor women, past and present, through a nomination system.”
A nomination form can be obtained on the AAUW Tahlequah Branch website at https://arapaho.nsuok.edu/~aauw/.
Family members of deceased nominees selected to be honored at the dinner will be contacted, said Glenn.
“We would notify someone to represent her and then encourage people to come and support the Women of Distinction at the dinner,” she said.
The nomination packet, which will include a photo and no more than three pages of supporting articles, information, letters of support or other materials, can be sent to Glenn electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or a hard copy can forwarded to Glenn at AAUW, P.O. Box 516, Tahlequah, Okla. 74465.
A woman’s role in society has undergone major changes over the years, and AAUW has been major part of that progression, said Glenn.
“AAUW has been a part of the advancement of women in our society. They have been around for well over 100 years and have investigated everything from pay gaps for women to education disparities,” she said. “We’re celebrating anniversaries of Title IX and the Equal Pay Act. So as far as advocacy for legislation, we’ve really made great strides, and we’ve got the right to vote, which we didn’t have when AAUW was started [in 1881].”
There are 12 AAUW chapters in Oklahoma, and three student groups at NSU, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University, said AAUW Oklahoma Co-State President Jeanna Wing.
“Tahlequah and Tulsa are the most active branches,” she said. “We have [a state convention] coming up in July 13 in Oklahoma City. It’s focused on membership and recruitment.”
Chapters want to get the younger generations involved to continue the AAUW mission. Wing said more young women are beginning to showing interest in advocating for equal rights across the board.
“It hadn’t been that way for awhile, but it is now. They’re more interested in their future now,” she said. “A lot of them don’t realize that there is a pay gap. We’re hoping to start a [pay] negotiation workshop that’s called Smart Start, and we hope to do that next year. That’s sponsored by the national AAUW.”
For more information on the AAUW Tahlequah Branch, go to https://arapaho.nsuok.edu/~aauw/.