Just a couple of years later, in 1980, a collection of women’s groups and organisations, with the National Women’s History Project at the fore, successfully ran a campaign to be nationally recognized. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring that the week of March 8th 1980 would be National Women’s History Week.
His proclamation was accompanied by the following words:
“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 men whose names we know so well.”
National Women’s History Week was declared every year until 1987. Then, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, which designated March as “Women’s History Month”. A number of additional resolutions were passed by congress between 1988 and 1994, which gave the President the authority to make it an annual event. Since 1995, there hasn’t been a year when the president hasn’t issued a proclamation designating March as Women’s History Month”.
More recently, a President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America sponsored hearings across the country. Soon there will be additional hearings held by The Women’s Progress Commission in order to raise interest in preserving areas that are central to American women’s history. The groups promoting this include state historical societies, women’s organisations, and youth movements such as the Girls Scouts.
The Theme of Women’s History Month 2022
This year, Women’s History Month has been given the theme “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. The theme is designed both to recognise the incredible work of caregivers and frontline workers throughout the pandemic and also the millions of women, from all different cultures, who have provided healing and hope to those around them since time immemorial.
The National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) is taking a leading role and calling on people to remember the importance of healers and caregivers who both sustain us and provide hope for the future. They are hoping that across the world, during National Women’s History Month, people will take the time to honour those women in their community who fill these roles, both in the present day and historically. This includes women working as counsellors and clerics, artists and teachers, doctors, nurses, mothers, and grandmothers.
Women have long been a symbol of compassion, especially in regards to health care; one only needs think of examples such as Florence Nightingale. Furthermore, women are also recognised for leading the way in mending divisions and finding peaceful solutions. This is true whether it is an argument between friends and family or on a much larger scale. It is this ability which should be recognised, as when properly harnessed it can do untold good for the individual and society as a whole.
Whether this is the first you have heard of Women’s History Month or you are a long standing participant, we have put together a number of ideas to help you celebrate. There is sure to be at least one idea that appeals to you, so you can find the perfect way for you to honour the great strides made by the women’s right movement over the ages.
Read Books by Female Authors
For too long women were excluded from the literary world. Books were once purely the domain of men and for much of history, women were not taught to read or write. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. Books are a wonderful window into the way that society works and they have the power to shape the thinking of a generation. Today, there are numerous successful women authors in every single genre. Why not take the time to try some new women authors this month, whether they are contemporary or from a previous age, to honour their hard work.
Familiarise Yourself with Women in Politics
With a few notable exceptions, in most countries women are sadly unrepresented in politics. According to figures from the United Nations, 119 countries have never had a woman leader. However, there are several inspirational women working in politics right around the world, in Europe, America, and elsewhere. This month, why not take the time to familiarise yourself with women working in politics near you. They are bound to be inspiring, and who knows, they could even set you off along a new career path.
Support Female Entrepreneurs
A recent study found than women are about half as likely as men to set up a new business. The same study found than women who do found businesses tend to create smaller and home-based businesses than men. Shamefully, just 7% of CEOs on the fortune 500 list are women. Despite this, many studies have demonstrated that female leadership can help with resilience in times of crisis. Thankfully, over the last twenty years great progress has been made and more and more women are successfully climbing the career ladder or creating businesses of their own.
One industry where this has been notable is the gambling industry. There has been a huge increase in the number of female CEOs in recent years, something that would never have happened as recently as two decades ago.
When it comes to land casinos, Atlantic City is leading the way with women running four out of the nine casinos there. This is especially remarkable when one considers that in the 1970s, women were not even allowed to deal in Vegas, let alone own a casino. There are also several instances of women running major online gambling companies, such as Jette Nygaard-Andersen, the CEO of Entain, and Denise Coates, the founder and joint CEO of bet365.
Each year, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to truly celebrate the role women play in the world, their achievements, and to work towards greater equality. Hopefully, you can take full advantage of this over the coming weeks and find some women who truly inspire.