March 2021 FSW Blogs: Women’s Stress, Women’s History Month Week 1: Why, How and Why March?
Women’s History month is a celebration the entire month offering a chance to acknowledge women’s contributions to our history, society and culture. Since 1987 the United States has been observing Women’s History month in March of every year.
There have been some amazing women at the forefront of making history in the United States. Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Abigail Adams have played major roles in changing our nation, communities and culture.
Each year, the National Women’s History Alliance creates and publishes a yearly theme and this year’s them is all about capturing the spirit of the challenging times we’re living through. Due to COVID-19 many of the original plans for 2020 were canceled, so they decided to extend the theme to “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” Such a beautiful theme especially around the last year of struggle for women in leadership roles across this nation.
How was Women’s History Month started? In 1908 thousands of women marched in New York City for better work conditions, labor laws and the right to vote. In 1909, socialists gathered in Manhattan for the first time and declared it an International Women’s Day celebration. The news made it to Europe and was introduced to the International Conference of Women in Copenhagen. Over 100 women representing 17 countries agreed to make the celebration internationally known. Internationally, this day was celebrated for the first time on March 8, 1911.
The USA didn’t acknowledge the celebration until 1975 when the United Nations started supporting the movement. In Santa Rosa California the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission planned a Women’s History Week in 1978. There was a parade to celebrate and presentations were given at local schools including the students who participated in an essay contest on “Real Woman”.
Why the month of March? It only took a few years for the movement to spread across to other states and in 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. That date was chosen as it corresponded with International Women’s Day. March is also the month when Title IX was passed which protects people from sex discrimination in federal education programs. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project lobbied Congress to make the entire month of March National Women’s History Month and Congress agreed and passed it.
Here are some of the history-making women of the United States of America. Each one has had their share of stress and trauma, but all have persevered and have given back to our country:
A controversial First Lady who was bold and outspoken on her views of civil rights for African-Americans and publicly disagreed with her husbands’ policies. She advocated for more diverse and challenging roles for women in the workforce as well as for civil rights of Asian Americans and World War II refugees. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She sat as first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She chaired the John F. Kennedy administrations Presidential Commission on the Status of Women and by the time of her death, she was regarded as “one of the most esteemed women in the world.”
An American activist best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. Refusing to give up her seat to a white man, after working a long shift, she started a movement and the US Congress called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”
Chisholm became the first African-American from either political party to run for president in 1972. She was also the first Democratic woman of any race to do so.
The woman behind the movement for women’s right to control her body. Fighting the state of Texas and DA Wade, she took on the pseudonym “Jane Roe” to fight for the right of all women. The fight led all the way to the US Supreme Court and they decided on January 22, 1973 that the Constitution protects a women’s right to a legal abortion.
Sandra Day O’Connor
President Ronald Reagan swore in Ms. O’Connor in 1981 as the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. After graduating from Stanford Law and third in her class, she had a hard time finding employment in the legal field due to a heavy bias against women attorneys at that time. She turned down a paid position as a legal secretary and worked as a lawyer for free at the San Mateo county. When they saw her as an asset they offered you a position as the deputy county attorney.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
In 1993, President Bill Clinton swore Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court where she served until her death in 2020. She fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the Supreme Court.
A diplomat, lawyer, writer, public speaker and politician who served as the 67th United States secretary of state, as a United States senator, as a First Lady of the United States and was the first woman to receive a presidential nomination from either political party in 2016.
An attorney, Attorney General of California, United States Senator and is currently the 49th Vice President of the United States. She is the first female vice president, the highest-ranking female official in U.S. History and the first African American/Asian American vice president.