Women’s History Month is an incredibly important holiday with a complex history. Women’s History Month traces its beginnings to Sonoma, California where in 1978, a school district decided to host a week to honor women’s contribution to the community. Presentations were given at dozens of schools; students participated in an essay contest; and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa.
This idea began spreading to schools around the country. Finally, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. Congress followed suit. Next, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.
The United States of America has subsequently observed Women’s History Month yearly each March since 1987. International Women’s Day is an even older event. It took place for the first time on March 8, 1911. Many countries around the world celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and regional customs like presenting women with gifts and flowers. The United Nations has sponsored International Women’s Day since 1975.
The 2020 Women’s History Month theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote.” This focuses on the courageous women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Emmeline Pankhurst who fought to gain the right to vote. These women are such important parts of American history, and their work still impacts politics today. As the 2020 election draws closer and closer, with more women than ever in the running for a presidential nomination, it really draws attention to the power women hold in elections.
In 2016, 63.3% of women and 59.3% of men voted. That's 73.7 million women and 63.8 million men – a difference of 9.9 million votes. These numbers are thanks to the valiant women of the vote. We’ve truly come a long way in America. Happy Women’s History Month.
By Julia Abbott