by Kayla Lynch
In 1979, a woman by the name of Molly Murphy MacGregor participated in the Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. After seeing the success of this event, the participants decided to hold similar celebrations in their own communities, organizations and school districts. After that, they decided to make efforts to secure a National Women’s History Week.
In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that the week of March 8 would be known as National Women’s History Week. Word spread rapidly across the United States about this celebration and many states saw this as an effective means to teaching students in schools about women throughout history.
The message read, “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed; however, the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America were as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, “Women’s History is Women’s Right.” It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.” I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality. Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people. This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
By 1986, 14 states declared that March would be Women’s History Month. Throughout that year, state by state, began realizing that Women’s History Month is something that should be celebrated across the country.
In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month. Every year since then, a Presidential Proclamation is issued to honor remarkable accomplishments of American women.