Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? Do you know why? The whole purpose of Women’s History Month is to pay tribute to the unrecognized contributions of women in American history, and how they, like men, shaped the nation, but were often not acknowledged for their contributions.
Here are some other things to know about this important month and women in history:
The first official recognition of women’s history came in 1980. Initially, it was recognized as a week-long observance. Jimmy Carter issued the Presidential Proclamation of Women’s History Week stating, “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.” After several years and much lobbying, in 1987, congress declared March National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A Presidential Proclamation is issued each year recognizing the month.
National Women’s History Week (and ultimately National Women’s History Month) was the brainchild of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP), a nonprofit organization that provides resources and information about the roles of women in American history. Each year, the NWHP chooses the theme and the individual women to honor each year.
Each year, there is a different theme and different women are recognized for their achievements. This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”
The month of March was chosen to observe Women’s History Month because of International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day has been observed since 1910, when a group of women gathered for an International Conference of Working women voted to recognize the same day each year. Initially it fell on the last Sunday in February until 1913, when it was changed to March 8.
This Women’s History Month is especially important to American women because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the suffragists march on Washington. On March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, 8000 marchers, organized by Alice Paul of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, gathered in a call for a constitutional amendment to allow women to vote. It took another seven years for that to happen when the 19th Amendment was finally passed in 1920.