An important time to celebrate and learn, Women’s History Month offers a peek into the past, in order to remember the plight of women so that everyone in society can keep moving forward.
This month, it’s time to enjoy and appreciate the women in history who have worked so hard to try to assure that modern women are treated fairly and with equal access and privileges. Get ready to celebrate Women’s History Month!
History of Women’s History Month
The large majority of ancient cultures were patriarchal and they often practiced customs that tended to hold women in low esteem and limited their freedom. Through the centuries, many courageous women have stepped forward to fight inequality and to champion these causes for the benefit of society and the women of the future. Their work to break down barriers and walls has allowed future generations of women to pass through with less resistance. Women’s History Month honors these women.
While not yet official all over the world, some of the earliest traces of this movement toward equality for women began in the early 1900s when unrest and debate was occurring over the inequality and oppression of women. Originally, many of the gatherings and celebrations for women occurred in February, but they later migrated to March, which is now considered Women’s History Month.
Even after women earned the right to vote in many Western countries in the early 1900s, women were certainly still not experiencing equality. Following their work and dedication during World War II, many women were unsatisfied with the idea of going back to donning their aprons at home. They wanted more and many of them began to say so.
The women’s movement of the 1960s put an even greater 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.
In 1975, the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day. Women’s History Week is a progression of that and Women’s History Month is an even 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.
How to Celebrate Women’s History Month
Some suggestions for individual celebrations of Women’s History Month include:
Learn About Women’s History Through Books
Women’s History Month is a great time to learn about different women of the past who have fought hard for the changes that modern people now enjoy. Read a biography about a female pioneer. Perhaps choose Amelia Earhart, one of the first ladies of aviation, paving the way for women in the flight industry, or about women’s movement origins and suffragettes like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
Or, pick up one of these important books about women:
- Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World’ by Rachel Ignotofsky. Featuring notable women in the STEM field (where women are less often noted or appreciated) from ancient to modern times.
- My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This autobiography reveals the story behind the pursuit of women’s rights as well as being only the second woman ever to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Based on the account of three African American women who were NASA mathematicians in the 1960s, this book has been made into a major film.
Get Involved with Women’s Education and Rights
Been meaning to get involved for a while now? Women’s history month is the perfect time to start volunteering at a local organization that supports women in a multitude of ways. Whether through the Helen Keller Foundation for medical care or the National Women’s Law Center that focuses on women’s rights, now is the time to get involved.
For those who aren’t ready to volunteer this would be a good time to make a donation to an organization for women’s education, one that offers microbusiness loans to help women or some other organization that promotes the equality of women.
Watch Films About Women’s History
Want to share this passion with the future women and men of America? Here are some movies that would be great to watch with girls and boys of older ages, empowering them to care for and support the cause:
- Anne Frank Remembered (1995). This documentary film uses interviews and updated information to fill in the important story of Anne Frank, whose Jewish family went into hiding in an attic for more than two years during World War II.
- Amelia (2009). This dramatized version reveals bits and pieces of the life of Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, who mysteriously disappeared in an attempt to fly around the world. This film stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor.
- Girl Rising (2013). Another documentary, this one reveals the plight of young girls in impoverished places who are trying to rise above their circumstances, particularly in places where a priority is not placed on the education of girls.
- Radium Girls (2018). Based on the true story of a group of factory women in the 1920s who fought back against huge radium companies and unsafe working conditions that caused them to get radiation poisoning and would eventually lead to their deaths.
Share with Others About Women’s History
One of the most important things about Women’s History Month is the collaboration that can be found when people work together for a cause, as seen in the women’s suffrage movements. Take this month to share thoughts and discussions with others about how everyone can support the cause.
Get a book club together to read one of the books above, or post a link about a most-admired woman in history on various social media outlets. Whatever way it is celebrated, Women’s History Month is the perfect reminder to get active in the plight of women all over the world.