To address the absence of information about women in America's schools, the National Women's History Project led a movement to have Congress designate a celebration to recognize women's historic achievements. The goal was to ensure that information about the myriad ways women have changed America would be part of our children's education.
In 1980, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation calling on the American people to remember the contributions of women. By 1987, fourteen governors had declared March as Women's History Month, and that same year, Congress and the President followed by declaring March as National Women's History Month.
This year's theme, Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams, honors the spirit of possibility and hope set in motion by generations of women in their creation of communities and their encouragement of dreams.
Community comes in many forms, and dreams change, expand, and are sometimes fulfilled. Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams honors women for bringing communities together and restoring hope in the face of impossible odds.
The purpose of women's history is not to idealize women. On the contrary, the stories of women's achievements present an expanded view of the complexity and contradiction of living a full and purposeful life.
Learning about the extraordinary achievements of women helps diminish the tendency to dismiss and trivialize who women are and what they accomplish. In celebrating women's historic achievements, we present an authentic view of history. The knowledge of women's history provides a more expansive vision of what a woman can do. This perspective can encourage girls and women to think larger and bolder and can give boys and men a fuller understanding of the female experience.
How are our children --girls and boys alike --going to understand the importance of women to American culture and history if their education includes little or nothing about the significance of women's contributions?
We know from research and from anecdotal studies that learning the stories of women's success, talent, and accomplishments expands a sense of what is possible for girls and women. Information about women and their successes gives males and females alike a perspective that challenges some of our cultures' most unconscious and archaic assumptions about women.
Thus, women's history becomes a story of inspiration and hope. A story of courage and tenacity. A story of promise, possibility and purpose.
Women's history is our nation's story. It is the story of how women built communities and inspired and nurtured dreams and how they will continue to do so.
For more information contact: The National Women's History Project