By: Lauren Kottke & Ella Sutherland
Women’s history month is the month of March that is dedicated to women. It’s to honor the women that have been mistreated, pushed down, and suffered throughout history. It’s well known about the struggles that women have faced for hundreds of years. Up until the women’s suffrage movement, they couldn’t even vote. And before that, it wasn’t normalized for women to have a job or to be unmarried. Though much has changed, the world is still unsafe for women.
Women’s history month started in 1978. At first it was only a week-long celebration and was called “Women’s History Week’. It started in Santa Rosa California by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County Commission and the Status of Women. Women’s History Week was led by a teacher named Molly Murphy McGregor. During that week, Santa Rosa had presentations on women’s contributions to history, society and culture. After the Santa Rosa Women’s Week, it spread across the country. More and more states started to follow and celebrate Women’s Week.
Someone who helped start celebrating women was Gerda Lerner. She organized and chaired a 15-day conference on women’s history. Her conference had many different sponsors for the event. Women’s Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution were two of the many sponsors. This conference made more people push towards Women’s Month.
“Women’s history is a women’s right—an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”— Gerda Lerner
It wasn’t until 1980 that Women’s Week became a national celebration. In February of 1980, president Jimmy Carter declared March 2-8 as National Women’s History Week. After it was declared by the president, more issues started to be passed by the president. On August 4, 1981, president Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation that Women’s History Week would be celebrated with ceremonies and activities. People wanted there to be speakers, presentations, and parades.
Then, in 1987, congress passed a petition which made Women’s Week, Women’s Month. The petition was made by the National Women’s History Project. And after 1987 it became an annual celebration.
Now Women’s History Month is celebrated by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Other countries celebrate but at different times. For example, Canada celebrates Women’s Month during October. There is also International Women’s Day on March 8th.
Since Women’s History Month started, there have been things that have improved and some things that haven’t.
One of the things that have improved for women is the amount of women working in the government. This may not seem like a huge deal but it is. Women now have a say in laws that get passed, and are more likely to recognize women’s struggles.
Another way that things have improved for women is now many more countries are instigating laws to support the fight for gender equality. In the last 10 years, 131 countries have passed over 274 legal reforms in order to create more equality between genders. This is important for the futures of young girls and women.
One more way that things have improved for women is the percentage of young women and girls, that are attending school, has gone up hugely. As of today there are over 79 million more girls that are in school learning than there were in 1998.
There are still many issues that women face today like pay gaps, job security, gender based violence, and reproductive rights being taken away. We still have a long way to go before women can feel fully comfortable in the world we live in today, but from what we can tell we are making slow progress.
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