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Women’s History Month

Melanie Drobet

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“We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter…”

Upon the birth of our nation and throughout the history of mankind, women have struggled to fight for both their voiced opinion and place in society. After being looked down upon, stereotyped, undervalued, and dismissed as ornaments, women have managed to emerge stronger than ever before. In American history, women have impacted the views of society and the views of the world through labor movements, prohibition movements, equal rights and suffrage protests, and so much more. Thus, the United States along with the United Kingdom and Australia recognize the month of March as National Women’s History Month.

Women’s History Month is an annual celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. Believe it or not, years prior to 1970 women’s history was virtually an un-known and silent topic in the K-12 curriculum or simply the eye of the public. Refuting this idea, the school district of Sonoma, California organized a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history, and society; presentations were given at dozens of schools, hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa. The idea soon caught on and gained the support of neighboring communities rather rapidly- so much so that in 1979, about a year later, The Women’s History Institute was held at Sarah Lawrence College with chairman notable historian Gerda Lerner and attendance by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. Celebrations and commemorations soon spread like wildfire and became so popular that by 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. In the same year, both the House of Representatives and the Senate co-sponsored a Congressional Resolution for National Women’s History Week, demonstrating even the political support of this much needed commemoration.

A word spread rabidly and swept the nation off its feet, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of National Women’s History Week as an effective means to achieving equity goals within classrooms. More and more schools nationwide added women’s history as part of the curriculum and sponsored organizations and celebrations featuring the achievements of women in history. Soon thousands and close to millions of schools and communities were celebrating National Women’s History Week supported and encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress.

By 1986, only six years after President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation, 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. This state-by-state action was used as the main source or reason to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month and in 1987 it was; Congress had declared March as National Women’s History Month.

So as we continue to go about our daily lives throughout the month of March, remember the women prior to us who helped abolish slavery, or helped establish equal working rights. Remember those who stood against child labor and discrimination or helped women reach their ultimate goal all along- the right to vote. Remember those who went outside the social norm for women and who became the first of their kind to do something wild. Just remember…

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Women’s History Month