Like I did for Black History Month, I would like to dedicate this Write Anything Wednesday post to looking at the origin of Women’s History Month. (As it turns out, both February and March started on a Wednesday this year.)
How Did Women’s History Month Begin?
Women’s History Month, much like Black History month, first began as a weeklong celebration. The first Women’s History Week celebration was organized by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women (McGregor).
The year was 1978 when the Sonoma, California School District first held events for Women’s History week. To celebrate women’s contributions to culture, history, and society, presentations were scheduled at dozens of schools by local women; students were asked to compete in the “Real Woman” essay contest; and it all culminated in a parade in downtown Santa Rosa (History.com).
Like Black History Week, the local celebration soon caught on among other school districts. The celebration grew after national leaders of organizations for women and girls participated in the Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Molly Murphy MacGregor, a member of the National Women’s History Project, was in attendance, as was the chair of the Institute, historian Gerda Lerner. As the other women in the group learned about Sonoma County’s celebration, they decided to bring those ideas to their school districts and communities.
Other organizations joined in the fun, as well. Women’s history week was first recognized by President Jimmy Carter, who proclaimed March 8 the start of that year’s celebration. Congress followed suit in 1981 and officially made the weeklong observance a national one (History.com). Rep. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Orrin Hatch co-sponsored the Congressional resolution to recognized Women’s History Week Nationally.
Women’s History Month was officially recognized in March 1987. Women’s History Month was already being observed in 14 states before 1987 (McGregor). But the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to make the observance official across the country.
Did You Know?
Women’s History Week was chosen to coincide with International Women’s Day, which is also observed in the month of March. It was first observed on March 8, 1911 and it has been sponsored by the United Nations since 1975. The following was stated in the U.N.’s resolution:
To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.
Women’s History Month also has its own themes.
The 2012 theme was “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment.”
This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”
There are 13 honorees for 2017, including Lily Ledbetter, who sued a local Goodyear Tire factory after finding out that she was being paid less than her male counterparts for the same work.
Although an initial ruling in her favor was overruled, by the 11th District Court of Appeals, Ledbetter brought her cause to the Supreme Court. However, she lost that case in a 5-4 decision on May 29, 2007 (“Ledbetter”).
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act into law. The law loosens the amount of time needed for employees to file a complaint about pay discrimination (McGregor).
What Do I Have In Store for This Month?
Well, there are two posts in particular I would like to do before the month is up. One involves the Suffrage Movement, particularly in the United States and Great Britain. The other topic is the history of feminism.
This Is a Little Off-Topic, But …
By the way, the Doodle 4 Google contest is occurring and it lasts until March 6 at 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Many K-12 kids from across the U.S. have participated and Google needs voters to choose the top 5 finalists. I already voted and I will leave the link: https://doodles.google.com/d4g/index.html.
Please take a little time to appreciate some young artists.
“2017 Theme and 2017 Honorees.” National Women’s History Project. Web. Retrieved 1 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.nwhp.org/womens-history-month/2017-honoree-nominations/>.
History.com Staff. “Women’s History Month.” History.com. A+E Networks. 2009. Web. Retrieved 1 Mar 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month>.
MacGregor, Molly Murphy. “Why March is National Women’s History Month.” National Women’s History Project. Web. Retrieved 1 Mar 2017. <http://www.nwhp.org/womens-history-month/womens-history-month-history/>.
“Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.” Oyez. Web. Retrieved 1 Mar. 2017. <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2006/05-1074>.