Women’s History Month
March marks the beginning of Women's History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. The month-long observance has its roots in International Women's Day, which was first celebrated in 1911.
The idea for Women's History Month in the United States was first proposed in 1978 by a group of women's organizations and historians. The following year, President Jimmy Carter declared the first national Women's History Week, which was celebrated during the week of March 8th.
In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month, and since then, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation recognizing the month.
The theme for this year's Women's History Month is "Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced." The theme honors the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.
"Women throughout history have fought for their voices to be heard and their votes to count," said Gina Smith, executive director of the National Women's History Alliance. "The theme for this year's Women's History Month highlights the bravery and perseverance of the women who fought for suffrage, and it reminds us that we must continue to fight for equality and justice for all women."
Events and activities celebrating Women's History Month are taking place throughout the country. The National Women's History Museum in Alexandria, Virginia, is hosting virtual events, including lectures, panel discussions, and film screenings, throughout the month. The Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative is offering a series of online exhibitions and educational resources, including a virtual tour of the National Museum of American History's "Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage" exhibit.
Many schools and universities are also recognizing Women's History Month with events and activities. For example, the University of Michigan is hosting a virtual series of lectures and discussions on women's history, while the New York City Department of Education is offering resources and lesson plans for teachers to use in their classrooms.
Women's History Month is also an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in advancing women's rights and to recognize the work that still needs to be done. Despite the gains that have been made in recent decades, women continue to face systemic inequalities in areas such as pay, representation in leadership roles, and access to healthcare.
"Women's History Month is not just a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the past, but also a time to look forward and work towards a more just and equitable future for all women," said Smith.
As the country continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Women's History Month is also an opportunity to recognize the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women. Women have been disproportionately affected by job loss and caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic, highlighting the need for policies and initiatives that support women's economic and social well-being.
"Women's History Month is an important reminder of the resilience and strength of women, particularly in the face of adversity," said Smith. "As we navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, it's important that we recognize and support the contributions and sacrifices of women."