The month of March marks the celebration of the accomplishments and contributions of American women of every race, class, and ethnicity in business, sports, politics, education and in every area of life. In the 1970s women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in the general public consciousness. In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration. The first celebration included a “Real Woman” essay contest and concluded with a parade in downtown Santa Rosa.
In 1980, former President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. Organizers believed the celebration was an effective means to achieving equity goals within classrooms and, in 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating March as Women's History Month.
The dual commemoration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 9) is a unique opportunity to collectively “...help create a gender equal world”. The #EachforEqual campaign sparked a global conversation about how men and women around the world play a role in achieving equity in pay and access to opportunities. In the words of Edith Cowan, an Australian social reformist: “Women are very desirous of their being placed on absolutely equal terms with men. We ask for neither more nor less than that.”
Educators agree the celebration of the dignity and accomplishments of women in their own families and those from other backgrounds leads to higher self-esteem among girls and greater respect among boys and men. Gender equality is critical to personal development and key to creating a society where women and men enjoy the same opportunities, rights and obligations in all areas of life.