The large majority of ancient cultures were patriarchal, and they practiced customs that held women in low esteem and limited their freedom. Through the centuries, many courageous women have stepped forward to fight inequality and to champion causes for the benefit of society. Their work to break down barriers has allowed future generations of women to pass through without resistance. Women’s History Month honours these women.
The women’s movement of the 1960s put the spotlight on women’s issues and made it clear that historical contributions by women had been completely discounted. As historian and activist Gerda Lerner said in 1986, “When I started working on women’s history about thirty years ago, the field did not exist. People didn’t think that women had a history worth knowing.” Lerner’s pioneering work has been responsible for the introduction of Women’s Studies programs into the university education system, and remarkable contributions by amazing women are now documented as part of history.
Some suggestions for individual celebrations of Women’s History Month include:
- Read a biography about a female pioneer, perhaps Amelia Earhart, one of the first ladies of aviation, paving the way for women in the flight industry
- Watch a film about women’s movement origins and suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
- Volunteer or make a donation to an organisation for women’s education
- Post a link about your most-admired woman in history on Facebook
In 1975, the UN officially recognized International Women’s Day. Women’s History Week is a progression of that, and Women’s History Month is a further extension. Throughout the month, various community events, internet blog series, television presentations and entertainment specials will be staged to look back on women’s achievements, to celebrate the progress made by women around the world, and to remember that there is still work to be done.