Women's History Month

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Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.[1]

History[edit]

In the United States[edit]

Women's History Month reception in the East Room of the White House on 18 March 2013.

In the United States, Women's History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women's Day in 1911. In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women's History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8 (International Women's Day). In 1979 a fifteen-day conference about women's history was held at Sarah Lawrence College from July 13 until July 29, chaired by historian Gerda Lerner.[2][3] It was co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College, the Women's Action Alliance, and the Smithsonian Institution.[2] When its participants learned about the success of the Sonoma County's Women's History Week celebration, they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts.[3] They also agreed to support an effort to secure a National Women's History Week.[3]

In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week.[3] The proclamation stated, "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. 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, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people. This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that 'Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.'"[3] Carter was referring to the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified, not to the amendment which did become the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution after his presidency.

In 1981, responding to the growing popularity of Women's History Week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a Women's History Week. Congress passed their resolution as Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week."[4] Throughout the next several years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as Women’s History Week.[4] Schools across the country also began to have their own local celebrations of Women's History Week and even Women's History Month. By 1986, fourteen states had declared March as Women's History Month.[3]

In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.[4] Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.[4] Since 1995, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.[4]

State departments of education also began to encourage celebrations of Women's History Month as a way to promote equality among the sexes in the classroom.[4] Maryland, Pennsylvania, Alaska, New York, Oregon, and other states developed and distributed curriculum materials in all of their public schools, which prompted educational events such as essay contests. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities began to celebrate of Women's History Month. They planned engaging and stimulating programs about women's roles in history and society, with support and encouragement from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress.

In March 2011, the Barack Obama administration released a report, Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being,[5] showing women's status in the U.S. in 2011 and how it had changed over time.[6] This report was the first comprehensive federal report on women since the report produced by the Commission on the Status of Women in 1963.[6]

Some organizations have issued statements marking Women's History Month, for example the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee.[7][8]

A President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America recently sponsored hearings in many parts of the country. The Women's Progress Commission will soon conduct hearings to promote interest in preserving areas that are relevant in American women's history. Some of the groups promoting this interest are state historical societies, women's organizations, and groups such as the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Presidential Proclamations of Women’s History Week[edit]

1980 (scroll down)
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986

Presidential Proclamations of Women's History Month[edit]

Annual themes of Women's History Month, declared by the National Women's History Project[edit]

  • 1987: "Generations of Courage, Compassion, and Conviction"[9]
  • 1988: "Reclaiming the Past, Rewriting the Future"[9]
  • 1989: "Heritage of Strength and Vision"[9]
  • 1990: "Courageous Voices - Echoing in Our Lives"[9]
  • 1991: "Nurturing Tradition, Fostering Change"[9]
  • 1992: "A Patchwork of Many Lives"[9]
  • 1993: "Discover a New World"[9]
  • 1994: "In Every Generation, Action Frees Our Dreams"[9]
  • 1995: "Promises to Keep"[9]
  • 1996: "See History in a New Way"[9]
  • 1997: "A Fine and Long Tradition of Community Leadership"[9]
  • 1998: "Living the Legacy"[9]
  • 1999: "Women Putting Our Stamp on America"[9]
  • 2000: "An Extraordinary Century for Women 1900-2000"[9]
  • 2001: "Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision"[9]
  • 2002: "Women Sustaining the American Spirit"[9]
  • 2003: "Women Pioneering the Future"[9]
  • 2004: "Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility"[9]
  • 2005: "Women Change America"[9]
  • 2006: "Women, Builders of Communities and Dreams"[9]
  • 2007: "Generations of Women Moving History Forward"[9]
  • 2008: "Women's Art Women's Vision"[9]
  • 2009: "Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet"[9]
  • 2010: "Writing Women Back into History"[10]
  • 2011: "Our History is Our Strength"[11]
  • 2012: "Women's Education – Women's Empowerment"[12]
  • 2013: "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination:Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics"[13]
  • 2014: "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment"[14]

In Canada[edit]

Women's History Month was proclaimed in Canada in 1992, where its purpose is to give Canadians "an opportunity to learn about the important contributions of women and girls to our society – and to the quality of our lives today".[1] October was chosen to coincide with the celebration of the anniversary on October 18 of the decision of the court case Edwards v. Canada, more commonly known as the Persons Case, in which it was established that Canadian women were eligible to be appointed senators and in general had the same rights as Canadian men with respect to positions of political power.[15]

In Australia[edit]

Women's History Month was first celebrated in Australia in 2000, initiated by Helen Leonard, convenor of the National Women's Media Centre, working with the Women's Electoral Lobby. The organisation of annual Women's History Month celebrations is incorporated as part of the work of the Australian Women's History Forum.

Annual themes[edit]

Since 2005, the annual celebration of Women's History Month in Australia has centred on a different area of women's achievement. Promotional materials and events are focused around the theme and organisations, institutions and community groups are encouraged to use this theme for their own events.

  • 2013: Finding Founding Mothers[16]
  • 2012: Women with a Plan: architects, town planners and landscape architects[17]
  • 2011: Women in the Business of Food[18]
  • 2010: Demeter's Daughters: women’s harvest history[19]
  • 2009: Parliamentary Women[20]
  • 2008: Women with a Mission: Australian women contributing overseas[21]
  • 2007: Arm in Arm: Indigenous and non-Indigenous Women Working Together[22]
  • 2006: Musical Belles: Women in Music[23]
  • 2005: Celebrating Racy Women[24]

Recent impact[edit]

The popularity of women's history celebrations continues to spread as more people are becoming aware of the contributions of women and girls. A President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America recently sponsored hearings in many parts of the country. The Women's Progress Commission will soon conduct hearings to promote interest in preserving areas that are relevant in American women's history. Some of the groups promoting this interest are state historical societies, women's organizations, and groups such as the Girl Scouts of the USA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Women's History Month". Status of Women Canada. Government of Canada. October 3, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "This Week in History - Pioneering women's history summer institute, July 18, 1979". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f MacGregor, Molly Murphy. "History of National Women's History Month". National Women's History Project. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "About: Women's History Month". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  5. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/Women_in_America.pdf
  6. ^ a b "White House Releases First Comprehensive Federal Report on the Status of American Women in Almost 50 Years". The White House. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  7. ^ "RNC Statement on Women’s History Month". GOP. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  8. ^ DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Celebrates Women’s History Month: “We Can’t Stop Now” | Democrats.org
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Honorees: 2010 National Women’s History Month". National Women's History Project. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  10. ^ "2010 Theme: Writing Women Back into History". National Women's History Project. 1980-03-08. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  11. ^ Hammond, Kayla (March 1, 2011). "Women's History Month: 'Our History Is Our Strength'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  12. ^ "2012 National Women’s History Month Theme: Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment". National Women's History Project. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  13. ^ "Announcing the Theme for National Women’s History Month March 2013". National Women's History Project. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  14. ^ "National Women's History Project". National Women's History Project. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  15. ^ Henrietta Muir Edwards and others (Appeal No. 121 of 1928) v The Attorney General of Canada (Canada) [1929] UKPC 86, [1930] AC 124. Accessed March 3, 2012.
  16. ^ "Women’s History Month 2013", Australian Women's History Forum. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  17. ^ "Australian Women’s History Month 2012 poster". Australian Women's History Forum. January 22, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  18. ^ Women's History Month 2011. Australian Women's History Forum. September 3, 2010. Archived by Pandora on April 14, 2011. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  19. ^ NEW Women's History Month 2010. Australian Women's History Forum. July 30, 2009. Archived by Pandora on April 14, 2010. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Women's History Month 2009. Australian Women's History Forum. October 19, 2008. Archived by Pandora on April 14, 2009. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  21. ^ Women with a Mission. Australian Women's History Forum. August 13, 2007. Archived by Pandora on April 14, 2008. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  22. ^ Women's History Month 2007. National Foundation for Australian Women. 2007. Archived by Pandora on April 5, 2007. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  23. ^ Women's History Month 2006. National Foundation for Australian Women. March 7, 2006. Archived by Pandora on April 12, 2006. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  24. ^ Women's History Month 2005. National Foundation for Australian Women. April 21, 2005. Archived by Pandora on August 5, 2005. Accessed March 4, 2012.

External links[edit]