As I’m sure you know, March is Women’s History Month. It is a month to celebrate all the Amazing CAN DO Women throughout history. Depending on your age, you may be thinking: “Of course, March is Women’s History Month.”
But you may be in one of the generations who remembers when only a few women were mentioned in textbooks or discussed in classrooms.
We didn’t know the social, economic, cultural, and political contributions of women beyond such figures as Betsy Ross (who sewed!). History, it seemed, had been made by men. In those days, most of us didn’t even stop to question where all the amazing CAN DO women were. We believed that all the exciting and important roles were clearly played by men.
Finally, it began to change. So what’s the history of this month?
“A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.” –Anonymous
I lived in California for 40 years and was active in many women’s organizations, outreach, and educational programs. In researching information for some of my presentations, I took pride in learning that Santa Rosa, a town not too far from where I worked, was responsible for the first Women’s History Week. ...More about that in a minute.
True, there already was the March 8 designation of International Women’s Day. That had started in 1911 with only four participating countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland). That’s right, no US participation. The United Nations recognized International Women’s Day in 1975.
Looking back we learn that much of the important work on getting recognition for the achievements of women can be attributed to commissions on the status of women. The first commission met in 1947 and included 15 government representations from the United Nations.
Perhaps the important day in the US was December 14, 1961 when President Kennedy established the bipartisan Commission on the Status of Women, naming Eleanor Roosevelt as its chair.
Over the following years, many states created their own commissions and then a large number of county-level commissions were established.
So back to Santa Rosa, as promised. In 1978, the Sonoma County Commission’s Education Task Force declared a Women’s History Week. Why? Title IX was the law of the land (passed on March 1, 1972). That legislation prohibited discrimination due to sex in federally funded education programs. But many schools were slow in opening all programs equally to females and males. The Sonoma Commission wanted to persuade school principals of the importance of Title IX and to get communities enthusiastic about the opportunities for females. So they focused on schools in Santa Rosa and declared Women’s History Week to begin on March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day. It was a big success.
Women’s History is Now
In 1980, President Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring Women’s History Week that was to begin March 8. Of course, that got to be a bit complicated since the actual day of March 8 changed each year.
So in 1987, Congress passed a resolution that designated the month of March rather than a single week. Congress acted only after a petition from the National Women’s History Project — now known as National Women’s History Alliance.
And every Congress since then has passed a resolution making March Women’s History Month.
A Yearly Theme
Providing Healing, Promoting Hope
Each year, the Women’s History Alliance, in coordination with multiple women’s organizations, designates a theme for the month.
The 2022 Women's History Month theme is: Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.
The theme for both 2020 and 2021 was: Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.
Women’s History Isn’t a Month. It’s a Lifetime.
Interested in What President Carter said in declaring the first Women’s History Week in 1980?
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, 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.
As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, “Women’s History is Women’s Right.” – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”
President Carter continued: "I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980.
I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality – –
Susan B. Anthony,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Harriet Tubman, and
Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people." ~President Carter
Hope You'll Sign Up for Our Blog (and Get a Special 40% Off Coupon)
NOTE: Be sure to scroll down and sign up for our blog. We'll send you a link to our most recent post about an Amazing CAN DO Woman. In addition, we'll let you know when we have special sales. Of course, we never share or sell you name and email address.
When you sign up, we'll send you a 40% OFF Coupon for any item in our RosieCentral Etsy store.