By Katie Doll
March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates women’s contributions to society and events in history. The annually declared month in fact has its own history that is both fascinating and vital in highlighting the roles of women in American history.
Women’s History Month actually began as Women’s History Week in 1978 when the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission realized women’s history was not on the curriculum taught in schools. Because there was already a day called International Women’s Day, the week of that day was chosen as the focal point of the observance.
For the next five years, Congress passed joint resolutions to declare Women’s History Week in March, while thousands of individuals and organizations celebrated by holding essay contests headed by the National Women’s History Project.
In 1987, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which declared Women’s History Week as Women’s History Month. President Reagan was the first President to issue a proclamation for the month.
“I call upon all Americans to mark this month with appropriate observances to honor the achievements of American women,” said Reagan in his proclamation March 16, 1987.
Many women are honored during Women’s History Month ranging from Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who calculated the trajectories for many NASA missions, to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education.
Today, the #MeToo movement has sparked protests and rallies for social equality for women. Laura Paddison, editor for This New World, a project looking for the new movements to create a fairer world, has given women numbers to tell people who are unsure about the concept of social inequality.
These numbers include the number of years women must wait for economic equality (217), the year in which women in the U.S. will receive equal pay (2059), and the number of girls not in school (130 million).
Exhibits and collections dedicated to women can be found on womenshistorymonth.gov.