Why is Women's History Month in March? 5 things to know
As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum, according to the National Women's History Alliance.
Below is a brief explanation why we celebrate Women's History Month in March:
1. LOCAL CELEBRATIONS
The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, in California, initiated a "Women’s History Week" celebration for 1978.
The week of March 8, International Women’s Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance. The local Women’s History Week activities were met with enthusiastic response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week.
In 1979, Molly Murphy MacGregor, was invited to participate in The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which was chaired by noted historian, Gerda Lerner and attended by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. When the participants learned about the success of the Sonoma County’s Women’s History Week celebration, they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts. They also agreed to support an effort to secure a “National Women’s History Week.”
3. PRESIDENTIAL AND CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT
The first steps toward success came in February 1980 when President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In the same year, Rep. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Orrin Hatch co-sponsored a Congressional Resolution for National Women’s History Week in 1981. This co-sponsorship demonstrated the wide-ranging political support for recognizing, honoring, and celebrating the achievements of American women.
4. LOBBYING EFFORT
As word spread rapidly across the nation, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of National Women’s History Week as an effective means to achieving equity goals within classrooms. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women’s History Week, supported and encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress.
5. NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
By 1986, 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used as the rationale to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March 1987 as National Women’s History Month. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special presidential proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.