by Rafaela Prifti/
The start of Women’s History Month serves as a reminder of an ongoing campaign to elevate the voices of women. “To honor women across the globe, we must ensure that they are not only celebrated, but also supported,” says Nathalia Fernández, who is running for the office of the Bronx Borough President.
Fifty years ago, women’s history was not part of the K-12 curriculum or in the general public consciousness, according to records of the National Women’s History Alliance. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County, California, Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978.
The intention was to observe the week of March 8th – International Women’s Day. Dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week and numerous community women participated in special presentations in classrooms throughout the country. At the end of the week a celebratory parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa, California.
The success of the Sonoma County’s Women’s History Week initiated similar celebrations in organizations, communities, and school districts. They all joined in agreement to support an effort to secure a “National Women’s History Week.”
The historical records reveal that in February 1980 President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.
The Presidential support prompted lobbying efforts on a national scale. “State Departments of Education encouraged celebrations of National Women’s History Week as an effective means to achieving equity goals within classrooms,” notes the website of National Women’s History Alliance. States like New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and others developed and distributed curriculum materials for all of their public schools. Encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating the event. Through the years, the growing efforts of hundreds of educational and women’s organizations was spearheaded by the National Women’s History Alliance. Thanks to increased lobbying, in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.