Celebrating ‘Women’s History Month’ 2014

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about women history month

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

March is Women’s History Month
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.

About Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

From the Law Library of Congress’ guide to the legislative history of Women’s History Month.

Executive and Legislative Documents
The Law Library of Congress has compiled guides to commemorative observations, including a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to Women’s History Month.

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.

AUSTRALIA

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 the Women’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.

The popularity of women’s history celebrations continues to spread as more people are becoming aware of the contributions of women and girls. A President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America recently sponsored hearings in many parts of the country. The Women’s Progress Commission will soon conduct hearings to promote interest in preserving areas that are relevant in American women’s history. Some of the groups promoting this interest are state historical societies, women’s organizations, and groups such as the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Since 2005, the annual celebration of Women’s History Month in Australia has centered around a different area of women’s achievement. Promotional materials and events are focused around the theme and organisations, institutions and community groups are encouraged to use this theme for their own events.

2013: Finding Founding Mothers
2012: Women with a Plan: architects, town planners and landscape architects
2011: Women in the Business of Food
2010: Demeter’s Daughters: women’s harvest history
2009: Parliamentary Women
2008: Women with a Mission: Australian women contributing overseas
2007: Arm in Arm: Indigenous and non-Indigenous Women Working Together
2006: Musical Belles: Women in Music
2005: Celebrating Racy Women

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The National Women’s History Project is an American non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving women’s history. Based out of Santa Rosa, California since 1980, it was started by women’s history activists Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan.

The NWHP started by leading a coalition that successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month, now celebrated across the land.

Today, the NWHP is known nationally as the only clearinghouse providing information and training in multicultural women’s history for educators, community organizations, and parents-for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of women contributions to U. S. history.

The NWHP promotes women’s history because, By walking history’s pathways, we learn to step forward with confidence. The legacy of how others shaped society sparks our own longings to contribute. Everyone needs role models — footsteps enough like our own to inspire us. History must tell the whole story. For girls, knowing women’s achievements expands their sense of what is possible. For all of us, knowledge of women’s strengths and contributions builds respect and nourishes self esteem — crucial to all children and adults now, and in the years to come.

The enduring goal of the NWHP is to “make history” accurate by continuing to recognize and celebrate women’s authentic contributions through current and future projects.

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