Every March America celebrates Women’s History Month as well as International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on March 8th.
International Woman’s Day
This year’s International Woman’s Day theme was Break the Bias. Break the Bias spotlights the collective and individual biases against women that fuel gender inequality worldwide. Knowing that bias exists is not enough, action is needed to create a leveled playing field. International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political, and social achievements of women. This celebration of women began in 1911 and has been sponsored by United Nations since 1975.
Woman’s History Month
The Women’s History Month theme this year is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The theme is a homage to the frontline workers during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, as well as recognition for the ways that women have historically provided healing and hope in the past and present. Women have been healers since ancient times. Healing is the practice of transforming suffering into wholeness. The idea of hope spreads light to the lives of others and reflects a belief in unlimited possibilities for future generations. Combined, healing and hope are essential drives for dreams and recovery.
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the overlooked contribution of women in United States History. It began as Women’s History Week in 1978 and was started in Santa Rosa, California. Women’s History Week was dedicated to celebrating women’s contributions to culture, history, and society. This week was placed at the same time as International Women’s Day on March 8th. It consisted of special programs in schools, a “Real Woman” essay contest, and a celebratory parade.
Eventually, the movement spread to other communities across the country. In 1980, the National Women’s History Project lobbied for national recognition and soon enough President Jimmy Carter made Women’s History Week a national celebration. President Carter 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 were as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
14 States Declare Woman’s History Month
By 1986, 14 states declared March is Woman’s History Month. In 1987 Congress passed a law that designated March as Women’s History Month and ever since, each president has issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as so.
Some of the most notable women celebrated during the month of March are Sacagawea, a Native American woman who helped Lewis and Clark during their expedition in the early 19th century; Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who fought for gender equality more than 70 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote; Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom during the Civil War; and Amelia Earhart, one of the first female pilots.
Other countries have joined the United States in honoring women, including Canada and Australia. Women’s History Month continues the discussion of women and their contributions as well as encourages the study of female achievements.