Women’s History Month

Leslie Chen, Staff Writer

March marks the start of Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of women in history, culture, and society. This year’s theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote”, pays homage to the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. 

Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to our country’s history. From civil rights leaders like Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks to pioneers in the suffrage movement like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the timeline of women’s historical milestones stretch back to the founding of the U.S.

The actual celebration of the month dates its roots to the late 1900s, when a school district in Sonoma, California, organized a weeklong celebration of women’s achievements. Presentations were given at dozens of schools, and a parade was held downtown. As time passed, more school districts and cities across the country started to adopt the idea. 

In 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter officially recognized the week of Mar. 2 as National Women History’s Week.

“Men and women have worked together to build this nation,” Carter said in a presidential address. “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But, the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women were as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” 

The U.S. Congress followed suit a year later, establishing it as a national celebration. Six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully lobbied Congress to expand the week-long event to the whole month of March.

This event isn’t just acknowledged in the U.S., though. International Women’s Day, held every year on March 8, is a worldwide global celebration. The United Nations, which has sponsored the day since 1975, explained that they hope to “acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.”

According to the National Women’s History Alliance, the 2020 theme “will honor women from the original suffrage movement as well as 20th and 21st-century women who have continued the struggle.” Such struggles included fighting against poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of voter suppression. 

Each year the organization honors both living and deceased honorees; this particular year focused on civil rights and voting rights activists. This year’s honorees include Maria Kumar,  the founder of Voto Latino; Terry Minnis, the director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; and Eleanor Norton, the Congressional Representative for the District of Columbia.

March serves as a time to celebrate and look back at the many achievements of women from the past, as well as honor those who continue to fight for equal rights.