Women’s History Month began as a small celebration of women in Santa Rosa, California for the week of March 8, 1978. The movement began to spread across the country, and in 1980 a group of historians lobbied Congress for national recognition of this event.
In February of that same year, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 to be National Women’s History Week.
Upon issuing this proclamation, President Carter said “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. 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 man whose names we know so well.”
The following few presidents would go on to designate a week in March every year to be Women’s History Week. It wasn’t until 1987 that March was made into Women’s History Month.
Nowadays, this month-long designation is more than just a title. Women’s History Month celebrates all the contributions women have made to the United States and recognizes the specific achievements women have made throughout American history. Not only this, but it also highlights the many struggles women have faced in achieving equality over the years.
To help get an idea of the importance of Women’s History Month, SAU students and staff were asked what women’s history month means to them. Here’s what they had to say:
“Women’s History Month means recognition. Women’s History Month should be a time to recognize not only the highly recognized achievements (of women) but also the small ones. I think it’s a time to thank the women close to you because they deserve to be recognized for what they do. Women’s history month is also a time to remember how far we have come in closing the gap caused by inequality. Thank those who fight to make sure women are heard,” said junior Riley Lucas.
According to freshman Nazaria Almanza-Gustafson, “Women’s History Month means two different things to me. First, it is a time of reflection on how far women have come, and it is also a time to create inspiration and empower yourself and others to continue that path forward. In this day and age, it is important to recognize this month and to understand what it means to women and the communities that surround them.”
Professor Sarah Dennis said, “Women’s History Month reminds me to learn about, share, and respect the contributions of women who came before me. It also motivates me to keep working for international women’s causes.”
But, Women’s History Month isn’t just a month for women. It’s also a time for men to celebrate the women in their lives. Here’s what SAU men had to say:
“I would say Women’s history month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments women made to gain equal rights. I believe it’s a time to learn more about the history of women’s rights and look at issues that women still face today.” said sophomore Luke Benes.
Communications professor Dr. Brett Billman said, “To me, Women’s History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women throughout history. It’s also a time to highlight the diversity and intersectionality of women’s experiences and amplify the voices of those still marginalized and underrepresented. In 2023, as women’s rights are still being attacked we are reminded that there is still much work to be done in the name of equality.”
That being said, here’s to having a month full of education and celebration of women’s overlooked achievements throughout history, and let’s come together to empower the wonderful women around us for a better tomorrow.