Women’s History Month
March has been designated “Women’s History Month,” intended to acknowledge the contributions women have made throughout history.
Although already observed for some time in parts of the country, President Jimmy Carter designated March 2 through March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.
A transcript of President Jimmy Carter’s message to the nation designating National Women’s History Week can be found at www.nwhp.org:
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation,” Carter told the nation. “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But 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. As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, ‘Women’s History is Women’s Right.’ — It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision. I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980.”
The next year, Congress pushed for all of March to be included in the observance of women’s contributions.
According to https://womenshistorymonth.gov, Women’s History Month began in 1981 as a national celebration when Congress authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Congress continued to pass joint resolutions over the next five years designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” The National Women’s History Project eventually petitioned Congress leading to the passing of Pub. L. 100-9, which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month. Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month between 1988 and 1994. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.
The National Women’s History Project states on their website as word spread across the nation, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of National Women’s History Week as a means to achieving classroom equity goals. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Alaska and other states developed and distributed curriculum materials for all of their public schools. Organizations sponsored essay contests and other special programs in their local areas. 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.