TAHOE WOMEN’S SERVICES: Celebrate Women’s History Month this March
Women have long been an integral part in our society and the shaping of history as a whole. Women’s History Month is a time when we recognize the important contributions that women have made throughout history.
The idea of having a time set aside to honor the contributions of women began in Europe in 1911. Europeans celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day to recognize the plight of women who were trying to gain equal rights, however it was not widely recognized. Women’s rights were a major issue throughout the region and a priority for many activist groups and individuals who felt women should be allowed to vote and receive the same privileges as men. This battle went on for many years in Europe. By writing books on the topic, these activists focused their efforts on showing people the contributions that women have made to society over the years.
With the depression of the 1930s, which hit Europe as well as the U.S., followed by World War II, women’s rights went out of fashion. In the 1950s and ’60s, after Betty Friedan referred to the “problem that has no name” ” the boredom and isolation of the middle-class housewife who often gave up intellectual and professional aspirations ” the women’s movement began to revive and interest in women’s issues and history blossomed.
By the 1970s, there was a growing sense for many women that “history,” as taught in school, was incomplete in light of women’s presence in history. In the United States, calls for inclusion of black Americans and Native Americans helped women realize they were invisible in most history courses.
The celebration of women’s history in the U.S. began officially in 1978, when the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women initiated “Women’s History Week” in its community.
In 1981, U.S. Representative Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) co-sponsored a Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project (founded in 1979 by Molly McGregor) helped expand the celebration to the entire month of March. In 1987 and following years, the National Women’s History Month Resolutions have been approved with bipartisan support in both the Senate and House and signed by the president.
Today, schools and communities celebrate the month with special curriculum and events surrounding the many and great accomplishments that women have achieved. To honor this special month, Tahoe Women’s Services encourages you to learn more about Women’s History throughout the month of March.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement for the right to vote sprouted from an 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. During the civil war years, women activists worked on the emancipation of slaves, believing both slaves and women would be allowed the rights of white men. The government, however, saw them as two separate issues.
In 1866 the American Equal Rights Association was formed, in 1868 the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizenship and voters as male. Needless to say, this did not make the women happy.
In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for trying to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election. In 1878, a Women’s Suffrage Amendment was introduced to Congress. The first World War slowed down the movement, but petitioning and protests finally got the Nineteenth Amendment passed by both houses of Congress. In 1920 it was ratified under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
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