As we enter March, we also celebrate Women’s History Month. This month is designated to all women, but especially women who have left their mark on the world. We are honoring their legacies, as well as educating people on the importance of women in society.
Before there was women’s month, women were originally only given one day of honor. The first official National Women’s Day was in 1909, after thousands of women protested by marching throughout New York City and advocating for their voting rights. It was first celebrated on the 28th of February- not March. It continued to be recognized on the last Sunday of February until the 1970’s.
The holiday advanced into March when the Women’s Suffrage Parade took place on March 3, 1913, as they were still standing up for their voting rights. Three years later, again in March, the National Women’s Party was formed.
Finally, on March 22, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the Senate, giving women voting rights throughout all fifty states. All these key events taking place in March earned the month its title.
The month did not become an official celebration until 1981, after a school district in Sonoma, California announced their own Women’s Week. Former president Jimmy Carter was appealed to the idea and turned it into a national celebration. Six years later, Congress voted to extend the week into a month-long celebration throughout all of March. Women’s History Month is not celebrated in all countries, though, so International Women’s Day is still celebrated on March 8.
Now that we are in 2023, America celebrates Women’s History Month proudly. There is a different theme every year, and this year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Stories” which is explained by the National Women’s History Alliance as “women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, blogs, podcasts, news and social media.” This includes women who wrote in journals many centuries ago, to modern day authors and songwriters, and many more.
One woman to honor this month is Te Ata, a native Chickasaw storyteller who traveled the world, collecting and sharing Native American stories. Her consistency was risky, as her storytelling was actually breaking the law. In 1880, the United States made story telling illegal for indigenous people by the Code of Indian Offenses. The goal was to isolate Native Americans from their cultural traditions to increase assimilation. Te Ata ignored the threat of legal consequences and still persisted. She once attended a garden party to spread her intellect, where she crossed paths with Eleanor Roosevelt. Te Ata inspired many contemporary writers with her dedication.
Another woman named Elise Robinson was a journalist from 1924 to 1956. During this time period, she was recognized as “the most famous woman newspaper writer in America” due to her column titled “Listen, World!” In here she brought attention to important topics that most other publicists of the time period tried to silence, such capital punishment, war, any breaking news, and of course, gender equality. Her articles were read by 20 million people every day, and potentially millions more through a syndication network, which was similar to the early internet. The NWHA puts her fame into perspective by sharing that in the modern day, her articles would reach double the amount of people who are subscribed to the New York Times, and viewers of Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and NBC’s Today Show viewers combined. She was paid more than any other female writer in her company.
These two women were both brave and influential to people of their times and people of our time. It is important to recognize these women and women everywhere who are attempting to do the right thing, even if others disagree with them.
Appreciate the women who have made the world a better place, and honor them by learning their contributions. Easy ways to accomplish this self-education could be by watching a documentary or reading books and articles. Women’s History Month is important in spreading knowledge and building respect and self esteem among all people in our society, but the women in your life have earned some extra worship this month.