Women’s History Month and Why It’s Still Important
by Alexis Baro
March 1987 proved itself to be an influential time for women in America, as Congress dedicated the month to women’s history. This Congressional declaration came at the urging and work of women from the National Women’s History Project, women who had begun to call for the development of Women’s History Week five years prior in March 1982. Eventually, between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed resolutions authorizing the President to declare the March of every year Women’s History Month. Since this advancement, organizations like the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have worked together to highlight women's history by creating an informative website: womenshistorymonth.gov. This is just a sample of the imperative work that needs to be done as women move forward in society.
In looking to the past as we do each March, we are able to recognize and celebrate the often forgotten achievements of women. The National Women’s History Project, or NWHP, works to preserve and promote the stories of women in various fields, and their website proudly proclaims that they are “writing women back into history.” Their efforts lie in sharing details of the lives of impactful women, and each year is given a unique theme and corresponding nominees to showcase a specific area where women have made important contributions.
This year, for example, Women’s History Month is committed to the theme “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” With that, this year’s nominees include women like Ella Grasso, the first U.S. governor, and Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist, along with a number of other women who devoted their lives to serving their communities.
Though Women’s History Month is a nationwide commemoration of achievements, many contend that it is no longer integral. It is certainly true that women’s rights have progressed exponentially in recent years, but to argue against a celebration of women’s history is to grow complacent in the movement toward true equality. All too often, we recognize the success of today’s women while failing to acknowledge the work of past women. Why? Their works simply went undocumented or unappreciated amidst the authority of the patriarchy.
Today, more than ever, it is imperative that we celebrate women of the past because the women of today are still working to prove themselves in society as in centuries past. As the NWHP says, “Our history is our strength.” In celebrating Women’s History Month, we are able to move forward, knowing that countless females have contributed to the world and that their achievements are just as deserving of note as any man’s.
So, how can you celebrate Women’s History Month? Try checking out the NWHP website for plenty of great recommendations! Containing resources that range from detailed biographies of annual nominees to trivia questions, the National Women’s History Project is a prime source of knowledge for anyone seeking to partake in the celebrations that March holds. Through celebrating women’s history, we remind ourselves that women have and will continue to do great things, no matter the obstacles.