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The History Behind Women’s History Month

Pennsylvania on the picket line, 1917 Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, 1875-1938 (CREDIT: womenshistorymonth.gov)

“The most common way people give up their power is by
thinking they don’t have any.”
—Alice Walker
(novelist, short story writer, poet, social activist)

Women’s History Month, observed annually in the United States during March, is a celebration of women’s remarkable contributions to history, culture, and society. Let’s delve into the intriguing backstory of this empowering month.

1. Origins and Inspiration:
The roots of Women’s History Month trace back to a weeklong celebration organized by the Sonoma County school district in California in 1978. During this event, presentations highlighted women’s contributions to culture, history, and society. Inspired by this local initiative, communities, school districts, and organizations across the nation embraced the idea. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit, passing a resolution to establish a national celebration. However, this was just the beginning.

2. Expanding to a Month:
In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress, leading to the designation of March 1987 as the first Women’s History Month. Subsequently, between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions authorizing the President to proclaim March as Women’s History Month annually.

3. Honoring Pioneers:
Women’s History Month honors the legacies of remarkable women who shaped history. From Abigail Adams advocating for women’s rights during the founding of the United States to Susan B. Anthony’s tireless fight for suffrage, their impact reverberates through time. Sojourner Truth’s powerful words and Rosa Parks’s courageous stand are woven into the fabric of our nation’s story.

4. International Women’s Day Connection:
International Women’s Day, celebrated globally on March 8, has deep historical roots. It first took place in 1911, celebrating women’s economic, political, and social achievements. The United Nations sponsors International Women’s Day, recognizing women’s vital role in peace, security, and human rights.

5. 2024 Theme: Advocacy for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:
Each year, the National Women’s History Alliance designates a theme. In 2024, we celebrate “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” These women champion the elimination of bias and discrimination, fostering a more equitable world
for all.

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