Celebrated in March to coincide with International Women’s Day on the 6th, Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. The 2019 Women’s History Month theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” The theme honors “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.” Here on the blog, similarly to how we celebrated Black History Month, we’ll be honoring speakers, authors, poets, educators, and activists.
The first International Women’s Day was in 1911. It wasn’t until 1978 that the Sonoma County, California school district organized a week-long celebration of women’s history. They were in the process of revising school curriculum to address what they saw as an imbalance, the omission of the contributions of women in America. In the summer of 1979, a fifteen-day conference about women’s history was held at Sarah Lawrence College, co-sponsored by the college, the Women’s Action Alliance, and the Smithsonian Institution. When these groups learned of the success of the celebration in California, they agreed to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts, and to support an effort to secure a National Women’s History Week.
In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, National Women’s History Week, saying that “the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
By 1986, fourteen states had declared March as Women’s History Month. In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations saying the same. Every year has its own theme, declared by the National Women’s History Project, things like “Generations of Courage, Compassion, and Conviction,” “Women Sustaining the American Spirit,” and “Writing Women Back into History.”
We invite you to join us this month as we remember, honor, and celebrate the contributions of women who “consciously built supportive, nonviolent alternatives and loving communities as well as advocating change. They have given voice to the unrepresented and hope to victims of violence and those who dream of a peaceful world,” (National Women’s History Project).
Some things to read, watch, contemplate, and share:
- Women’s History Month website hosted by Library of Congress. “The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.”
- National Women’s History Museum Women’s History Month resources
- 6 Productive Things To Do For Women’s History Month 2019
- National Women’s History Alliance 2019 Honorees
- 10 Women Writers Share Their Must-Read Books for Women’s History Month
- International Women’s Day website. “Campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter. A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world? Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”