Another Women’s History Month has come and gone. It’s important to reflect on how it started and why continue it each year.
An awakening began in the U.S. in the 1970s. Women were largely invisible in the history books. For that matter, so were Americans of different races. A group in California decided to hold a Women’s History Week in 1978. It was decided that the best time to do this would be around International Women’s Day—March 8, an event first celebrated in Europe in 1911. Other schools decided to join, and within three years, Congress passed a resolution to establish National Women’s History Week.
More schools and groups became involved in recognizing women in history. Organizations like the National Women’s History Project formed and began creating materials since traditional history books were lacking. Women’s History Week evolved to Women’s History Month.
Our identities are shaped by many things. One influence is role models. Certainly, a girl interested in space might have Neil Armstrong as a role model. But think how powerful role models like Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, Ellen Ochoa, or Sunita Williams might be.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
Nineteenth century Japanese feminist Toshiko Kishida had another way of saying it, “History is no longer just a chronicle of kings and statesmen, of people who wield power, but of ordinary women and men engaged in manifold tasks. Women’s history is an assertion that women have a history.”