June 20, 2024

A look into Women’s History Month

Life rafts, syringes, dishwashers, computers, home security systems, fire escapes, chemotherapy and feeding tubes are just a few of the life-changing contributions women have made to society throughout history. Not to mention, life would quite literally cease to exist without women. 

The month of March is Women’s History Month (WHM). WHM was created to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women in American history. 

Every year, an entire month is dedicated to appreciating the women who have influenced so many aspects of life. Each WHM encompasses a different theme and this year’s theme is “women who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion.” This theme was chosen to recognize the women who understand the need to eliminate bias and discrimination from all aspects of life. 

Many question how, when and why this “holiday” came about, and the history behind it makes this year’s theme incredibly fitting. Women have fought for equity, diversity and inclusion for so long, and WHM is just one way our country acknowledges those efforts. 

It is no secret women have spent all of history fighting to have the same rights as men, whether it be regarding voting rights, equal wages, being allowed to own property, etc. So many influential women have also been involved in fighting for equality outside of just gender. 

 International Women’s Day was created and celebrated for the first time on March 8, 1911. In fact, International Women’s Day has been officially sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, with acknowledgement that securing peace and social progress cannot be complete until women are equal and have the same opportunities to participate. 

Although this day was created, there were people who wanted more than just one day to celebrate influential women. 

In Santa Rosa California in 1978, Women’s History Week was created by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission of the Status of Women. The week of March 8 was selected to coincide with International Women’s Day, and soon enough various communities across the country chose to implement similar celebrations. 

Two years later, with the National Women’s History Project (now known as the National Women’s History Alliance) leading, women’s groups and historians successfully lobbied for national recognition and President Jimmy Carter issued the first official Presidential Proclamation in which he declared the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. 

In his message, President Carter said “…Men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” 

For the next seven years, National Women’s History Week would continue to be celebrated the week of March 8 until 1987. 

In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, that would designate the entire month of March as “Women’s History Month.” 

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