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March is Women’s History Month, but how did it come to be?

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Mar 02, 2023

March is Women’s History Month, but how did it come to be?
  • Happy Women’s History Month! The month of March marks the annual celebration of the impact of exceptional women throughout the years. It’s a time to appreciate women of all backgrounds and everything they do for our world, as well as address progress that still needs to be made.

    Women continue to contribute so much to our society, but it hasn’t always been the case that they’ve been given due appreciation. Keep reading to learn how Women’s History Month came to be in America, and how you can give back to the women in your communities this March.

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    How did Women’s History Month start?

    Although a month is now given to celebrate historically impactful women, Women’s History Month began originally as just a week. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the week of March 7, 1982, the following year would be nationally recognized as “Women’s History Week.” This decision was influenced by schools and organizations across the country dedicating weeks to celebrate women’s achievements. For the next five years, a week each March was officially announced as Women’s History Week. 

    Finally, in 1987, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned for congress to officially designate March of 1987 as “Women’s History Month”. Every year since then, the President has been requested to proclaim the month of March as Women’s History Month to recognize women’s achievements in American history.

    International Women’s Day also takes place in March, originally beginning in 1911 and being recognized by the United Nations since 1975. An annual Women’s March also typically takes place during this month to fight for greater change. Overall, the month of March is now a time dedicated to finally giving women the recognition they have deserved all along.

    What does Women’s History Month mean to us now?

    Women’s History Month is now celebrated each year to honor women’s contributions to history– most of which were previously overlooked. Although women have made world-changing contributions to the sciences, arts, and more, many of these innovators were left out of history or even had their achievements incorrectly credited to male colleagues.

    Some of the historically influential women that are recognized each year include Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harriet Tubman, Angel Davis, and many more trailblazers for social and scientific progress. Current female pioneers of social progress are also commonly honored this month, including leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and activists like Malala Yousafzai. This month is also a time we recognize the progress women have accomplished to achieve suffrage, women’s rights, and other feminist movements as we look to spark even more change in the future. 

    The National Women’s History Project, now called the National Women’s History Museum, continues to unofficially lead the way each Women’s History Month, designating an annual theme for the month. In 2022, the theme for March is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” This year’s theme aims to make a tribute to the female frontline workers of the pandemic and recognize the ways women of all cultures have historically given hope and healing.

    Inclusivity during Women’s History Month

    Women’s History Month is also a time when feminist movements are highly discussed, including critiques of these movements not being inclusive for all women. It’s only been in more recent waves of feminism that women of all backgrounds, including non-white, transgender, and LGBTQ+ women, have been more recognized in the fight for dismantling structures that oppress women.

    It’s important we celebrate all women this month and recognize that LGBTQ+ individuals and women of color have even more so been historically overlooked for their contributions to society. It’s trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson who helped pave the way to LGBTQ+ rights and Black women like Daisy Bates who fought for civil rights who have made great contributions to society that often go unrecognized.

    How can you support women this month?

    If you’re wanting to show your support for women in your communities this month, here are some things you can do:

    • Make sure your feminism includes all women!
    • Become more educated on women’s issues, including their intersections with racial and queer issues.
    • Learn more about influential women throughout history, including forgotten historical Black women.
    • Read books by influential female writers. Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison are must-read authors to check out.
    • Be a safe space for women in your community.
    • Attend some history month events in your area.
    • Support the National Women’s History Museum as they work to create an in-person women’s museum in the coming future!
    • Donate to organizations supporting women. Some examples include Planned Parenthood, emergency centers for women like Abby’s House, and Trans Women of Color Collective.

    Learn more with HER

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    Katie is a writer and creative person based in Seattle who is passionate about the arts, environmental justice, and all things vintage fashion. She celebrates queerness as a natural yet radical state of being, and she strives to make the world a more inclusive place for all. You can find her taking meditative strolls in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest channeling her inner Bella Swan, or just on IG @ktmarieeee.

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