Why Do We Celebrate Women's History Month in March?

March 25, 2020

 

Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month.  This is a time to recognize the achievements of women throughout history — and to push for greater acknowledgement of the women who are still breaking barriers and having amazing success.  At the same time, we can use this month as a way to continue to strive for equality.  But why do we celebrate Women’s History Month in March?

 

To start, International Women’s Day is on March 8.  This day of honoring women around the world has been observed in some way since 1911.  It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1977.

 

Starting in the 1970s, groups of women throughout the country began to celebrate what they deemed Women’s History Week — starting on March 8.  In 1980, President Jimmy Carter designed the first official National Women’s History Week, beginning on March 8.  Just a few years later, states began to declare the month of March “Women’s History Month.”  Finally, Congress declared March to be Women’s History Month in 1987.

 

There are a number of important moments in women’s history that happened in March.  This includes:

  • The first major suffragette parade took place on March 3, 1913.

  • The National Woman’s Party was formed in March 1917.

  • Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs funded by the federal government, was passed by the Senate on March 1, 1972.

  • The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the Senate on March 22, 1972 — although it still has not been fully ratified.

  • In March 2020, the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team protested unequal pay (a position defended by the U.S. Soccer Federation with the claim that the women have less skill and ability than the men’s team) by turning their jerseys inside out before the start of a match. 

 

Of course, celebrating women’s history in March has a special symbolism as well.  Throughout history, women have taken to the streets to demand equal rights, from the suffrage movement to the present.  This past month, thousands of women in Mexico City marched through the streets on International Women’s day, protesting rising violence against women and girls. They then stayed home the next day — making it a “Day Without Women.” This type of action demonstrates perhaps the best reason of all for Women’s History Month to happen in March: when faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, women around the world have mobilized and taken public action to demand equal rights, an end to violence, and more.

 

What are you doing to celebrate Women’s History Month?

 

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