Women’s History Month

Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

Observed in the United States since 1987, Women’s History Month is celebrated every March, recognizing the cultural, social, and historical contributions made by and for women. In history, women have been rarely appreciated and often overlooked: this month is a time to ponder on the achievements and legacies of women like Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, and more. Whether we already know them by their legendary statuses or lift up those whose achievements were long ignored, Women’s History Month offers us a chance to reflect on women’s trials, tribulations, and impressive legacies.

Women’s History Month has its origins in a week-long celebration of women’s contributions held during the ’70s, when a school district in Sonoma gave its students the chance to present and write essays on the topic of women’s history. Hundreds participated, a parade was held, and communities in California and throughout the U.S. began to take part in similar events as well. President Jimmy Carter was the first U.S. president to recognize Mar. 8 as the week of Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress quickly established it as a national celebration. Six years later, Women’s History Week turned into Women’s History Month, and since then, Mar. 8 has also been acknowledged as International Women’s Day. 

Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance chooses an overarching theme for Women’s History Month. In 2021, that theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” Aptly picked following one of the most divisive elections in recent history, “Valiant Women” emphasizes the importance of women’s ability to vote, and the long, hard path that led them there. The theme appreciates the work of those such as Sojourner Truth, an African American woman who supported the issues of abolitionism and women’s suffrage.

“Each year, Women’s History Month offers an important opportunity for us to shine a light on the extraordinary legacy of trailblazing American women and girls who have built, shaped, and improved upon our Nation,” the White House said in an official statement commemorating Women’s History Month. “Throughout American history, women and girls have made vital contributions, often in the face of discrimination and undue hardship. Courageous women marched for and won the right to vote, campaigned against injustice, shattered countless barriers, and expanded the possibilities of American life… far too often, their heroic efforts and their stories have gone untold, especially the millions of Black women, immigrant women, and others from diverse communities who have strengthened America across every generation.” 

Of course, Women’s History Month is not only a time to linger on the accomplishments of the past.  It’s also a chance to improve what we can in the present so that 20 years from now, we can be sure that we’ve progressed. Femicide, sexism, and other gender inequalities are still rampant in society, and these are issues that cannot be solved or combated within a span of 30 days. But whether that means focusing our cultural lens on women’s stories, electing female officials to positions of significance, or simply making the world a better, safer place for young women and girls, women’s struggles do not end at midnight on Mar. 31. Changing the world takes time; a month is simply not enough. And so the fight continues, as it always does.