March is Women's History Month
The 2013 theme is "Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics"
Use the resources available at www.nwhp.org for your National Women’s History Month events and programs.
This year's poster was designed by NRCS Pa Yang, a soil conservationist from Merced, California.
As recently as the 1970's, women's history was virtually unknown to the general public nor was it included in the K-12 curricula. In 1978, the Education Task Force of Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women established Women's History Week. In 1981, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming national Women's History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to Women's History Month observed during March.
Federal Women’s program managers throughout NRCS will host activities this month and all are encourage to support them. This is a great opportunity to acknowledge the many contributions women have made to the country, the workforce, and our lives.
The Beginning of Women's History Month
As recently as the 1970's, women's history was virtually an unknown topic. 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 for 1978. They chose the week of March 8th to make International Women's Day the focal point of the observance. The activities that were held met with enthusiastic response, and within a few years dozens of schools planned special programs for Women's History Week, over 100 communities participated in the Community Resource Women Project, and annual "Real Woman" Essay contest drew hundreds of entries.
In 1979, a member of the group was invited to participate in Women's History Institutes at Sarah Lawrence College, attended by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. When they learned about the county-wide Women's History Week celebration, and they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations and school districts. They also agreed to support efforts to secure a Congressional Resolution declaring a "National Women's History Week." Together we succeeded!
In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution. Overwhelming response as word spread rapidly across the nation, state departments of education encouraged celebrations of National Women's History Week as an effective means to achieving equity goals within classrooms. Many states developed and distributed curriculum materials to all of their public schools. Organizations sponsored essay contests and other special programs in their local areas. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women's History Week, supported and encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress.
The Entire Month of March
In 1987, the National Women's History Project petitioned Congress to expand the national celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, the National Women's History Month Resolution has been approved with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Each year, programs and activities in schools, workplaces, and communities have become more extensive as information and program ideas have been developed and shared.
Growing Interest in Women's History
The popularity of women's history celebrations has sparked a new interest in uncovering women's forgotten heritage. A President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in History in America recently sponsored hearings in many sections of the country. It took reports about effective activities and institutions that are promoting women's history awareness and heard recommendations for programs still needed. The Women's Progress Commission will soon begin hearings to ascertain appropriate methods for identifying and then preserving sites of importance to American Women's history. In many areas, state historical societies, women's organizations, and groups such as the Girl Scout of the USA have worked together to develop joint programs. Under the guidance of the National Women's History Project, educators, workplace program planners, parents and community organizations in thousands of American communities have turned National Women's History Month into a major focal celebration, and a springboard for celebrating women's history all year 'round.
(Information obtained from National Women's History Project)