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By: Anna Gotsch
In today’s world it’s easy to get caught up in our differences with one another. However, there’s one thing we all have in common: We all come from a long line of women. Everybody has a mother. And their mother has a mother. And their mother has a mother. I could go on forever but I won’t do that to you. Long story short, there’s bound to be some pretty kickass women somewhere in your lineage.
What started as just a week-long celebration in 1978 has grown into a nationally recognized, month-long event celebrated every March. Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize all of the incredible women who came before us along with all of the women who are making history today.
Sonoma County, California, 1978. While most of us recognize Sonoma County from the label on our favorite bottle of wine, it is also the birthplace of Women’s History Month. In the 70s, feminist activists were not pleased with the fact that the history books barely mentioned women and all of their amazing contributions. As a result, The Education Task Force of Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women set out to revise the curriculum. As part of this revision, they planned a “Women’s History Week” in 1978 for the week of March 8th. Because what takes place on March 8th? International Women’s Day!
By the following year, communities across the country were planning their own Women’s History Week. In 1980 a group of women led by the National Women’s History Project fought for national recognition. In February of that same year, President Jimmy Carter issued the first of many Presidential Proclamations which declared the week of March 8th, 1980 National Women’s History Week. In 1987 Congress passed a law that turned the week-long celebration into a month. Still to this day, the president is requested to issue an annual proclamation recognizing March as “Women’s History Month.”
While this month is cause for celebration, it’s also important to recognize changes that still need to be made. In President Joe Biden’s proclamation for this year’s Women’s History Month, he states that “the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have held back women – particularly women of color – for generations.”
Women’s participation in the labor force has dropped to its lowest point in 30 years. In addition to job losses, the number of mothers who have left the workforce to care for their children is triple that of fathers. Black and Hispanic women face “disproportionately high rates of unemployment.” And on top of all of that, reports of intimate partner violence have increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic.
While these stats can be discouraging, let’s not forget just how far we have come as women. Today, a record number of women hold seats in congress. In January, our first ever female Vice President was sworn into office. The research team at Pfizer was led by a woman, Katherine Jansen, to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. So crack open that bottle of wine from Sonoma, CA and toast to all the groundbreaking women who helped pave the road for us and all of the amazing women to come!
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