Celebrating Women’s History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month

A month after Women’s History Month, we look back to its beginning. On February 28, 1909 the first Women’s History Day was held in New York City to commemorate the first anniversary of the garment workers’ strike and 15,000 women marched through lower Manhattan. Most were teen girls who worked 12-hour days for $15 a week.

The day became Women’s History Week on March 8, 1978, when an education task force in Sonoma County, California kicked off International Women’s Day to draw attention to women’s history being brushed over in K-12 curriculums.

In 1987, Women’s History Month began after women’s alliances campaigned yearly to recognize Women’s History Week. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 Women’s History Week across the country. By 1986, fourteen states declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month. In 1987, activists were successful in their lobby to Congress for national recognition.

Wikipedia captions this image as “Five women officers of the Women’s League in Newport, Rhode Island, c. 1899.” Wikipedia continues, “While women’s organizations had existed earlier, it was not until the Progressive era (1896–1917) that they came to be considered a movement. The first wave of the club movement during the progressive era was started by white, middle-class, Protestant women, and a second phase was led by African-American women.”
By African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition – Library of CongressCatalog: http://lccn.loc.gov/2001705854Image download: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3a50000/3a51000/3a51500/3a51595v.jpgOriginal url: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a51595, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32211494

Since 1995, every president has issued a proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month, usually with a statement about its importance. Significantly, every Women’s History Month has a theme. This year’s theme was Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. This year the Women’s History Alliance recognized “women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.” In 2023, the theme was Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories, which aimed to encourage the recognition of women, past and present, who were active in all forms of media and storytelling, including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, news and social media.

Wyoming Territory was the first place in the U.S. to grant women the right to vote. Interestingly, the 19th Amendment did not give ALL women the right to vote. Signed into law on August 15, 1920, it came at a time when other laws prohibited women who were Native American, Black, Asian-American and Latin from voting, among others. In 1924, Native women born in the U.S. were granted citizenship, allowing them to vote. In 1952, Asian-American immigrant women received voting rights. In 1965, this also happened for Black women. Finally, in 1975 non-English speaking women were granted voting rights through an extension to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when women of all races could legally vote. This outlawed discriminatory tactics such as literacy tests and poll taxes, which affected predominantly Latinx women.

Wikipedia captioned this image: “The headquarters of the Minnesota Federation of Women’s Clubs in Minneapolis, c. 1920”
Image: Public Domain – Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society – https://www.minnpost.com/books/2009/09/letters-audra-strict-procedures

Believing deeply we should always show our gratitude and appreciation to all the women in our lives who made us who we were today, we genuinely acknowledge we are better off today because of the many women who unselfishly advocated equality and championed many of the laws contributing to making our country closer to a perfect nation.

How do we best honor the women in our lives? There are many women in my life who helped mold and shape me to become the person I am today. My mother is one of those women who guided me throughout my teenage years. She was my best cheerleader, supporter and encourager to be the best person God intends us to be. Her love is unconditional, even when I was kolohe (Hawaiian word for naughty but nice) while growing up. The other woman who made a profound impact in my life is my wife, whose heart is full of love and forgiveness. She is a great model for me and our daughters on how to be Christlike and a Godly servant. Her commitment to God is unquestionably the center of her being and a great testament to what the Bible teaches me of the greatest commandment in Matthew 22: 37–39: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment, and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself. My wife regularly shares with me another Bible verse that has a profound impact on my life—Micah 6:8: Act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with God. Having three daughters enriches my life and further adds blessings with grandchildren. My following the Bible verses is the best way I honor the two Godly women in my life. How about you—how do you honor the women in your life?