Written by Hannah Rose Showalter
March hasn’t always been Women’s History Month. The national holiday was first brought to life in the school district of Sonoma, California in 1978. It was born out of a week-long celebration put on by the school district, with the purpose of celebrating the role of women in our culture. Jimmy Carter then declared that week as National Women’s History Week, and six years later, after much petitioning by the National Women’s History Project, Congress declared the month of March as Women’s History Month.
In 2018, it may not seem important to celebrate women’s history. Don’t women have as many rights as they need? To some extent, this is true. Women have come so far since 100 years ago, or even 30 years ago. However, the simple fact that people still question the need for a month celebrating women is proof that there is still work to be done to ensure gender equality. Women have been recognized far less than men for their accomplishments for hundreds of years. It may take many years to uproot the ingrained ideas present in every aspect of our culture that women are the lesser sex.
How can we all work to celebrate women’s history this month? So often, the media we consume is male-dominated, without us even realizing it. This month, seek out stories written and shared by women. Representation can sometimes seem hard to come by, but once you begin seeking it out, it becomes harder to only accept undiverse media. Watch the Oscar-nominated film Lady Bird, a story centered around the relationship between a daughter and her mother, directed and written by Greta Gerwig. Read Rupi Kaur’s poetry books Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. Kaur is an Indian-Canadian poet who writes unashamedly about being a woman. Listen to the podcast History Chicks. Every hour-long episode focuses on a forgotten or poorly represented woman from history. By the end of each episode, you’ll feel as if you’ve learned so much about the woman, not just as a historical figure but also as a fellow human being.
For too long, important people from the past have been left out of textbooks simply because of their sex. This March, we cherish the women who have been unfairly pushed out of history. Here’s to Claudette Colvin, Ada Lovelace, Maya Lin, Marsha P. Johnson, Nellie Bly, Victoria Woodhull, Malala Yousafzai, and the countless other women who deserve recognition all 12 months of the year.