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  • Writer's pictureMatilda Butler

What’s the Deal with Women’s History Month?

It's March and You May Be Wondering "What’s the Deal with Women’s History Month?"


Women's History Month
Deer tracks outside my kitchen window.

I’m always excited for March to arrive. This year, an unexpected snow storm (no, not the one in California but the one in Oregon) kept me in the house. I couldn’t have my usual celebration with my granddaughter, but I'll see her soon.


It’s such fun giving her books about inspiring women. She’s a READER (caps are deliberate) and soaks up all the stories. I hope they inspire her throughout her life. I’m eager to share the story of Women’s History Month. 


Little story -- I bought her an ornament that pictured one of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's famous collars. I asked her if she knew who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was -- thinking I'd need to explain. My granddaughter responded: "Of course. She was a Supreme Court Justice who died recently."


In the meantime, since I can't talk with my granddaughter, I’d like to tell you a little about recent as well as historic events that helped create this special month. 


You Have Questions & We Have Answers about Women’s History Month


What’s the Origin of Women’s History Month?


Here’s the short answer. March was designated as Women's History Month in the United States to coincide with International Women's Day, which is celebrated on March 8th each year. Officially, the observance of Women's History Month in the US began in 1987 after Congress passed a resolution designating the month of March as a time to recognize and honor the contributions of women throughout history. 


And unofficially, Women's History Month came about on a long path. As you know, our RosieCentral blog recognizes the important contributions of women throughout history. We feature little known women as well as those with more familiar names. And we love that the March observance is an opportunity to highlight the achievements of women and to reflect on the ongoing struggle for gender equality.


What Does the Suffrage Movement Have to Do with Women’s History Month?


The roots of Women's History Month can be traced back to the early 20th century when the suffrage movement was gaining momentum. Women fought for the right to vote and to be treated equally under the law. They organized marches, rallies, and protests. Their efforts ultimately led to the passage of the 19th Amendment, which in 1920 gave women the right to vote.


Since then, women have continued to make important strides in all areas of life, including politics, business, education, and the arts.


Women like Shirley Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first African American woman elected to Congress, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served as a Supreme Court Justice for 27 years and fought tirelessly for women's rights, have inspired generations of women to pursue their dreams and break down barriers for other women.



Progress "yes." However, the struggle for gender equality is far from over. Women still face discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and the gender pay gap persists. Women are also underrepresented in leadership roles in many industries, and women of color face even greater barriers to access and to success.


To continue the progress made by those who came before us and to pave the way for future generations of women, it is important to celebrate Women's History Month and to continue the fight for gender equality. 


Below are prompts that can be explored during Women's History Month. You might choose one or two and bring them up in conversations with friends, ask your children for their thoughts, or choose some to inspire writing in your journal.

  1. Name several women who have inspired you. What did they accomplish, and how have they impacted your life (or how they might inspire you)?

  2. What are some of the biggest challenges face women today? How might you work to overcome these challenges in your own life as well as promote gender equality for others? What can businesses do? What could policy makers do?

  3. Think about the ways women's roles in society changed over the course of history.

  4. What ideas do you have to help ensure that all women have equal opportunities and access to resources?

  5. Who do you think are some women making a difference today? How are they advocating for women's rights and promoting gender equality?


I hope you’ll explore these and other questions about the current status of women. They can help to deepen our understanding of the challenges women still face. Then consider choosing one area and see what you can do to create a more just and equitable society for all. That may sound too grandiose. Instead think of a small step you can take -- such as encouraging one woman to pursue her dreams -- to help her get a job -- to volunteer your time with an organization that helps women.


Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate Progress for Women


In addition to celebrating Women's History Month, we need to express our gratitude for the women in our families and communities who have helped improve our lives and the lives of others. Yes, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made, but also to recognize the work that still needs to be done. Through education, advocacy, and collective action, we can continue to move towards a world where all women have the opportunity to thrive and succeed.


 


 

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