Women's History Month: Its Importance and Where We Are
In 1857, a group of women staged a protest in New York City against factories, fighting for their rights to equal working conditions.
Then in 1981, Congress passed authorization and a request to the President to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982, “Women’s History Week.” For the following five years, resolutions were passed to continue to have a week dedicated to women and their history.
A petition by the National Women’s History Project in 1987 pushed Congress to designate the whole of month of March to celebrating women’s history. It has been celebrated annually since with the purpose of highlighting the contributions of women throughout history and the current era. Women’s History Month is celebrated in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia during March. Additionally, it is celebrated in October in Canada, and internationally, March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day.
State departments of education across the nation encourage celebrations of Women’s History Month to promote equality among genders in the classroom. States such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Alaska have developed curriculum materials for public schools to promote events throughout March for Women’s History Month. These different materials include essay contests.
Each year, Women’s History Month has a theme. This year’s was “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” March is set to honor women who have “led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society,” according to the National Women’s History Alliance website. These women are ones who have ensured peaceful resolutions through nonviolent methods.
“For generations, women have resolved conflicts in their homes, schools, and communities,” the website said. “They have rejected violence as counterproductive and stressed the need to restore respect, establish justice, and reduce the causes of conflict as the surest way to peace. From legal defense and public education to direct action and civil disobedience, women have expanded the American tradition of using inclusive, democratic and active means to reduce violence, achieve peace, and promote the common good.”
This month-long holiday is a time to sing praises for both well-known women and the ones less known, for the women who have made change, and the ones working toward it. The role of women is important worldwide and throughout history.
Keeping with its tradition, the National Women’s History Alliance has selected 15 living and deceased honorees this year to be acknowledged in Washington D.C. on March 30. The women this year include: Graciela Sanchez, co-founder of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center; Deborah Tucker, president of the board of directors of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence; Dr. E. Faye Williams, human rights activist and president/CEO of the National Congress of Black women; Sarah Brady, the late gun control activist and champion of the Brady Bill; and Peace Pilgrim, who marched for thousands of miles across the country for peace before her death 38 years ago.
“From women’s rights and racial justice to disarmament and gun control, the drive for nonviolent change has been championed by visionary women,” the website stated. “These women consciously built supportive, nonviolent alternatives and loving communities as well as advocating change.”
Women’s Progress Commissions are to conduct hearings set to promote interest in preserving areas relevant to American women’s history.
According to the Census Bureau in 2017, there are 165.3 million women in the United States and it’s about time they have an equal voice. It is important to educate children and students about the women in history so that they gain role models, and see that anything is possible. You can support the women in your life by learning about historical women, donating to organizations, and running a fundraiser for a women’s shelter. Both men and women have been integral throughout history and in today’s society. It’s time to celebrate them equally.