Women's History Month 2016 | women leaders in history 2016

Women's History Month

How did March come to be Women's History Month?

March is Women's History Month

Women's History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.


Celebrating Women's History Month



It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18 Womens History Month is a celebration of womens contributions to history, culture and society.

The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987. The 2012 theme, ;Womens Education Womens Empowerment,; honors pioneering teachers and advocates who helped women and other groups gain access to advanced learning.

His recognition encouraged even wider participation in Women's History Week. Schools focused for that week on special projects and exhibitions honoring women in history. Organizations sponsored talks on women's history. The National Women's History Project began distributing materials specifically designed to support Women's History Week, as well as materials to enhance the teaching of history through the year, to include notable women and women's experience.


National Women's History Project

In 1987, at the request of the National Women's History Project, Congress expanded the week to a month, and the U.S. Congress has issued a resolution every year since then, with wide support, for Women's History Month. The U.S. President has issued each year a proclamation of Women's History Month.

To further extend the inclusion of women's history in the history curriculum (and in everyday consciousness of history), the President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America met through the 1990s. One result has been the effort towards establishing a National Museum of Women's History for the Washington, DC, area, where it would join other museums such as the American History Museum.

The purpose of Women's History Month is to increase consciousness and knowledge of women's history: to take one month of the year to remember the contributions of notable and ordinary women, in hopes that the day will soon come when it's impossible to teach or learn history without remembering these contributions.
As the Women's History Expert at About, I focus on women's history 365 days a year. To honor this special month, I encourage you to explore this site, learning more about one important aspect of the history of all people. Women's history isn't just for women, although many women find that studying women's history helps them realize that women's place is everywhere.

History of women in the United States and Gerda Lerner

In the United States, Women's History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women's Day in 1911. In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California participated in Women's History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8 (International Women's Day). In 1979 a fifteen-day conference about women's history was held at Sarah Lawrence College from July 13 until July 29, chaired by historian Gerda Lerner.

It was co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College, the Women's Action Alliance, and the Smithsonian Institution. When its participants learned about the success of the Sonoma County's Women's History Week celebration, they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts. They also agreed to support an effort to secure a National Women's History Week.


International Womens Day, a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women, took place for the first time on March 8, 1911. Many countries around the world celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, educational initiatives and customs such as presenting women with gifts and flowers. The United Nations has sponsored International Women’s Day since 1975. When adopting its resolution on the observance of International Womens Day, the United Nations General Assembly cited the following reasons: “To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.

Annual themes of Women's History Month, declared by the National Women's History Project

•           1987: Generations of Courage, Compassion, and Conviction
•           1988: Reclaiming the Past, Rewriting the Future
•           1989: Heritage of Strength and Vision
•           1990: Courageous Voices - Echoing in Our Lives
•           1991: Nurturing Tradition, Fostering Change
•           1992: A Patchwork of Many Lives
•           1993: Discover a New World
•           1994: In Every Generation, Action Frees Our Dreams
•           1995: Promises to Keep
•           1996: See History in a New Way
•           1997: A Fine and Long Tradition of Community Leadership;
•           1998:Living the Legacyot;

•           1999: Women Putting Our Stamp on America
•           2000:An Extraordinary Century for Women 1900-2000
•           2001: Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision
•           2002: Women Sustaining the American Spirit
•           2003: Women Pioneering the Future
•           2004: Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility
•           2005: Women Change America
•           2006: Women, Builders of Communities and Dreams
•           2007: Generations of Women Moving History Forward
•           2008: Women's Art Women's Vision
•           2009: Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet
•           2010: Writing Women Back into History
•           2011: Our History is Our Strength
•           2012: Women's Education – Women's Empowerment
•           2013: Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination:Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
•           2014: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment
•           2015: Weaving the Stories of Womens Lives

Women's History Month was proclaimed in 1992 in Canada

Women's History Month was proclaimed in Canada in 1992, where its purpose is to give Canadians an opportunity to learn about the important contributions of women and girls to our society and to the quality of our lives today. October was chosen to coincide with the celebration of the anniversary on October 18 of the decision of the court case Edwards v. Canada, more commonly known as the Persons Case, in which it was established that Canadian women were eligible to be appointed senators and in general had the same rights as Canadian men with respect to positions of political power.


Women's History Month in Australia was first celebrated in 2000

Women's History Month was first celebrated in Australia in 2000, initiated by Helen Leonard, convenor of the National Women's Media Centre, working with theWomen's Electoral Lobby. The organisation of annual Women's History Month celebrations is incorporated as part of the work of the Australian Women's History Forum.


In the UK Women's History Month was celebrated in 2011 and 2012

Women's History Month was celebrated in the UK in 2011 and 2012. A website was set up but has since apparently been abandoned.


Women's suffrage in Britain andthe Great Reform Act of 1832


Lily Maxwell was the first woman to vote in Britain in 1867 after the Great Reform Act of 1832. The act had explicitly excluded all women from the voting in national elections by using the term "male" rather than "person" in its wording. Maxwell, a shop owner, met the property qualifications that otherwise would have made her eligible to vote had she been male. In error, however, her name had been added to the election register and on that basis she succeeded in voting in a by-election – her vote however was later declared illegal by the Court of Common Pleas. The case, however, gave women's suffrage campaigners great publicity.


Female suffrage in Britain AndThe Chartist Movement in 1830


The Chartist Movement, which began in the late 1830s, has also been suggested to have included supporters of female suffrage. There is some evidence to suggest William Lovett, one of the authors of the People's Charter wished to include female suffrage as one of the campaign's demands but chose not to on the grounds that this would delay the implementation of the charter. Although there were female Chartists, they largely worked toward universal male suffrage. At this time most women did not have aspirations to gain the vote.


Outside pressure for women's suffrage was at this time diluted by feminist issues in general. Women's rights were becoming increasingly prominent in the 1850s as some women in higher social spheres refused to obey the sex roles dictated to them. Feminist goals at this time included the right to sue an ex-husband after divorce (achieved in 1857) and the right for married women to own property (fully achieved in 1882 after some concession by the government in 1870).


The issue of parliamentary reform declined along with the Chartists after 1848 and only reemerged with the election of John Stuart Mill in 1865. He stood for office showing direct support for female suffrage and was an MP in the run up to the second Reform Act.