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We recently finished our annual celebration of Women’s History Month; it is a month that always brings me joy. A month when women’s contributions to history are recognized. This was not always so. Until Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, it was lawful to exclude or prohibit women from studying in certain fields; they were limited in many areas of education. Once women had access to all fields of study, the effort to write women into history ramped up considerably. Women studying history wanted to read their stories, too. In the 1970s and 80s, research and writing about women’s history exploded. In 1981, a group of women historians successfully encouraged Congress to pass an act which called for the President to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. After the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress for women’s history to be celebrated for an entire month, in 1987, Congress designated March of that year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each President has annually proclaimed March as Women’s History Month. (History from Library of Congress).
Some question whether a month dedicated to women’s history is still needed. As an active participant of activities devoted to recording and celebrating women’s history, I hear annually someone question why women get a whole month when men do not. I would argue that until U.S. history textbooks proportionately tell the history of Americans, the month is still needed. As it stands, women have to look carefully to find their stories.
Our nation faces gender inequality issues that threaten our social, economic, and political progress. Although women make up almost half the workforce, few are found in high-paying trades or positions of upper management. They are not represented equally in government. It is difficult to be what you can’t see. We need to encourage our young women to dare to dream big. In order to embolden them to surpass gender norms, we need to inspire them. Telling women’s history is important to validating women’s existences by showing them their place in the narrative of this great nation; it empowers women and men to be the people that they want to be. I want to encourage our youth to use their skills to achieve their greatest potential. One small way that I have done this is to create a website devoted to telling the stories of women who dared to step out of their cultural confines. I hope that my website, Women Who Dared, inspires students to dream big for their futures by sharing with them biographies of ordinary, yet extraordinary, women.