Women’s History Month is about the women who came before us, those making a difference today, and the generations that will come long after we’ve gone
March is here, which means the start of Women’s History Month. During this time, we celebrate the extraordinary women who’ve paved the way for all of us. Women who’ve broken barriers, smashed through glass ceilings and made an indelible mark on the course of our modern history. Many of which are often forgotten, which is why celebrating the exceptional accomplishments of so many women before us is paramount to growth, success and community.
Over the past 15 years working in brand communications, I’ve experienced firsthand the power of words. Chosen carefully, the right words can uplift and inspire, while other words can hold us back, limit progression, and tie us to the chains of past traditions. Especially for women, however, words can give us the power to create change and impact the lives of others in ways that we once never could have imagined.
“We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things. That is what we are put on the earth for.”
— Delores Huerta
A Time of Reflection
That’s why it’s so important for us to recognize and celebrate Women’s History Month. It’s a time to reflect on the progress we’ve made, the challenges we still face, and the incredible women who’ve paved the way ahead of us.
Women like Elizabeth Blackwell, who in 1849 became the first woman to officially become a doctor in the United States. Or Harriet Tubman, an underground railroad worker, the first woman to lead a major military operation, and who led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom. Parade shares, “Born Araminta Ross in Maryland in 1849, she was called ‘Minty’ by those who knew her (she’d later choose to go by Harriet, her mother’s name). Some time after marrying a free Black man named John Tubman, Harriet decided to flee when she suspected that her owner was about to sell her and her two brothers. Her husband chose not to go, and her brothers wanted to turn back after seeing the ransom amounts. She made her way north on her own—without being able to read or write. She then returned to the South time and again to help others make the same journey.”
There is also the woman considered to be the ‘mother of the civil rights movement’, Rosa Parks who proved that even everyday people using the simple power of words and action can spark change; Susan B. Anthony, who fought tirelessly for women’s right to vote. And Delores Figueroa, that proudly declared being a Mexican American citizen who, in times of war, built aircraft alongside many other Mexican women known as war workers. Throughout our history, there have been countless brave, tenacious women paving the way for all of us.
As you might imagine, women were not always celebrated in this way. It wasn’t until 1978 that the inspiration behind Women’s History Month began as a week-long celebration organized by the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women. The week of March 8th was chosen to coincide with International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated globally for over 112 years, since 1911.
Due to changing public opinion and the rise of women’s rights during the 1970s, the idea of this week-long celebration quickly gained momentum, and soon other communities and school districts began celebrating Women’s History Week. In 1980, the National Women’s History Project lobbied for national recognition, and they got it. In February of that year, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.
Seven years later in March of 1987, Congress finally passed Public Law 100-9, proclaiming March as Women’s History Month.
“There are two things I’ve got a right to, and these are, Death or Liberty – one or the other I mean to have. No one will take me back alive; I shall fight for my liberty, and when the time has come for me to go, the Lord will let them, kill me”.
Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman By Sarah Hopkins Bradford
Women’s History Month Today
Today, Women’s History Month serves as a reminder of the power and resilience of women throughout history. It encourages us to dream big, to break barriers, and to keep pushing forward. It’s a celebration of all the women who came before us and the progress we’ve made, as well as a somber reminder of the work that still lies ahead.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s take a moment to remember the incredible women who fought for the rights we often take for granted today. Women like Shirley Chisholm, who in 1968 became the first black woman elected to Congress, or Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space. In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. In the past decade, we’ve even seen women like Malala Yousafzai champion female education rights, becoming the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, proving that nothing is impossible for determined women. Or today’s heroes such as Delores Huerta. Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.
There are also brave, courageous women whose stories are but a whisper to most. Those countless women may not have made it into the history books, but they still had a significant impact on society. These were women who not only stood up for themselves, but also for others, who challenged the status quo, and who refused—under any and all circumstances—to be silenced for what they believed in.
As women and women advocates, the responsibility lies with us. We must inspire future generations to dream big and break barriers like the women who came before us. But Women’s History Month is about more than just celebrating the past. It’s about empowering future generations to strive for greatness and overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. It’s about inspiring all people to reach for the stars and achieve their dreams.
So, take a moment this Women’s History Month to remember the work these women did, and use it to fuel your own ambition and drive.
Together, let’s strive to break barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and make our mark on the world. Because when we do, we not only honor the women who came before us but pave the way for generations to come.