With this year marking the 32nd anniversary of the making of Women in History month and with all the excitement going around, it’s hard to believe women’s history was once considered an insignificant topic. However, in the present era, it is a momentous celebration for both women and girls.
How did Women’s History Month originate and who was responsible for it? To make a long story short, Women’s History Month happened due to the efforts of pioneers who, with their confidence, passion, and humility, brought to light the contributions of women throughout our history.
Women’s rights have been associated with the month of March for more than a 150 years, starting on March 8, 1857, when female garment workers in New York City protested against their poor working conditions and low wage.
Later, on March 8, 1908, women needle workers in New York held a similar protest, with guidance from Mary Harris Jones (aka Mother Jones), Lucy Parsons, Clara Lemlich, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. It is in honor of the efforts of these four women that March 8 is observed as International Women’s Day.
Nevertheless, this isn’t how Women in History Month started.
In 1972, history teacher Molly Murphy MacGregor fielded a question from a male pupil about the definition of the Women’s Movement. MacGregor didn’t have an answer for him then, so she said, “What a good question. Let’s discuss it.”
As the question kept ringing in her ears, she rushed home, determined to find answers. Paging through countless college history textbooks, she found the information in only one, with a single chapter describing the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.
The realization came to MacGregor that women had been omitted from media, books, and classrooms. She began questioning herself about the reality of the situation and the real story that women wanted to tell. MacGregor decided to change the course of her life and joined the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on The Status of Women as a volunteer.
MacGregor helped establish a local women’s history week, which was celebrated in schools and organizations based on a specific curriculum. The urge to have women’s contributions to America listed in history expanded from here.
MacGregor, along with activists Paula Hammett, Mary Ruthsdotter, Better Morgan, and Maria Cuevas, founded the National Women’s History Project in 1980. By 1986, the group had helped persuade 14 states across the U.S. to celebrate March as Women’s History Month. One year later, the month was set aside nationally as a time to honor women’s accomplishments and contributions. From labor protests of the past to local activism in the here and now, women’s journey from the grassroots to National Women’s History Month has been inspiring. So, this March, let’s celebrate the countless women who have earned our recognition.