Women’s role in the founding of the church is something that many overlook while researching Church history. However, two students made it their goal to highlight these amazing women.
All through the month of March, BYU students were able to participate in Women’s History Month with a mini-series dedicated to LDS women. Women’s studies hosted the event which held weekly lectures that highlighted LDS women and their contributions to society. Topics including the life work of early pioneer women and the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Utah were covered.
As March ended, the organizers of the series took time to look back and reflect on the success and impact of their hard work. Kyra Malcarne, a senior from Connecticut studying political science spearheaded the successful series. Malcarne wanted to create something to honor LDS women who made an impact for the church.
Malcarne said she wanted to create an event that was focused not solely on sharing the biographies of these women but to sparking discussion regarding their works. She wanted students to learn from these women and help make changes for the future.
“It [the lectures] were very focused on the women and their impact on society which is exactly what we hoped to tailor the lecture,” Malcarne said. “It was fantastic.”
Malcarne recruited fellow student Chelsea Bakaitis, a junior form Lexington, Ill., studying geography to help her with the event. The two met in a class when Malcarne asked Bakaitis to help with the project.
Bakaitis said she was eager to help because she said many of her friends and other students are skeptical of her because she’s a women’s studies minor. She wanted to create an event that highlighted the achievements of great women. Bakaitis believed the series has opened the door for other students to appreciate the work of early LDS women and put a good name for women’s studies program across campus.
“I really felt like I was serving and bringing something good to campus,” Bakaitis said. “Learning about those women … helped me get a better understanding of LDS history.”
The lecture series was completely student-run by Malcarne and Bakaitis. It was the most successful lecture series that women’s studies has had and the program plans to host the event next year as well.
“We don’t often hear about LDS women so it was fun to learn about them, especially since they were feminists, which is often looked on as a negative thing for LDS women but these lectures showed feminism in a positive light,” Liz Young, a junior studying anthropology, from Lancaster, Penn., said in an email. “I loved that.”