A Brief History of Women’s History Month
Retrieved from Pixabay, Female Gender Symbol.
The month of March is almost here, and with it come many things to anticipate. Spring flowers, warmer weather and spring break are among them, but one particularly specific to March is the celebration of women’s important role in history.
This celebration of women began in 1981, when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized the President to designate a week in March as Women’s History Week. A portion of the law reads, “American women of every race, class, and ethnic back-ground helped found the nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways as servants, slaves, nurses, nuns, homemakers, industrial workers, teachers, reformers, soldiers, and pioneers…American women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of our Nation's life….” The first Women’s History Week was celebrated in 1982. For the next five years, one week in March was dedicated to recognizing women’s history. After being petitioned by the Women’s History Project in 1987, Congress passed another law which designated the entire month of March to the celebration of women’s role in history, and so began what is now known as Women’s History Month.
Kristin Waldo, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Eastern New Mexico University, believes it is important to recognize and celebrate women’s role in history because it has often been overlooked. Waldo said in many cases women’s contributions and achievements have not been properly credited. “I think the cultural focus is on the male, the person that actually does the final product, whatever that is,” she said. “They fought the war of independence, or they walked
on the moon, and those figureheads are male, and everyone who helped them achieve those things aren’t as important.”
Although Waldo fully supports the recognition and celebration of women, she shared some mixed emotions on the subject. “Women’s history is actually really important and at the same time it’s kind of, to me, sad that we have to designate something as special as a Women’s History Month to recognize it,” Waldo said. “If women were recognized historically and currently as being on par or equal with men, there would not be the need to have a women’s history month, because it would just be part of every day that we would know about all the accomplishments and contributions women have made.”
Waldo went on to acknowledge the contributions of many other groups who have also been overlooked; who have yet to have any designated time of celebration and recognition assigned to their roles and accomplishments. She shared that it is her hope to see everyone get their due recognition in the future, and that celebrating women’s history is a step in that direction. “I think it’s part of an important movement among populations that have been excluded to have their voice heard.”