This is the month to celebrate women – and the many victories they’ve had over the year. The month began as a national celebration when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested that the president proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as Women’s History Week. Congress continued to pass joint resolutions for the next five years to continue Women’s History Week in March. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to designated March 1987 was Women’s History Month. Since then, March has continued to be recognized as Women’s History Month.
This month’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment” and, according to the National Women’s History Project, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come. They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, women religious, and CEOs. Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience.
The lives and work of the2014 honoreesspan the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. National Women’s History Month 2014 provides an excellent opportunity to honor women and their accomplishments:
Indian rights advocate and diplomat
Chipeta was a Ute Indian leader, diplomat, and peacemaker who used her influence with Chief Ouray (her husband) to avert a war between the Ute tribe and the White settlers. In 1880, she was included in a Ute delegation to negotiate a reservation resettlement treaty in Washington, D.C.
Anna Julia Cooper (1858–1964)
African American educator and author
Anna J. Cooper was an author, educator, speaker, and among the leading intellectuals of her time.Born into enslavement, she wrote “AVoice from the South” (published in 1892), widely considered one of the first articulations of Black feminism.
Agatha Tiegel Hanson (1873–1959)
Educator, author and advocate for deaf community
Agatha Tiegel Hanson was a teacher, poet, and advocate for the deaf community. In 1893, she became the first woman to graduate from Gallaudet University. Her valedictorian speech argued for the recognition of the intellect of women, a cause she advocated throughout her career.
Katharine Ryan Gibbs (1863-1934)
Women’s employment pioneer
Katharine RyanGibbsfounded the Gibbs Schools (1911), providing women with high-level secretarial training and the opportunity to earn their own incomes. Her schools quickly expanded, opening branches near many ivy-league universities and effectively establishing secretarial work as a desirable occupation.
Frances Oldham Kelsey (1914-present)
Pharmacologist andpublic health activist
Frances Oldham Kelsey is a pharmacologist who, while working at the FDA, refused to authorize thalidomide for market (a drug that later proved to cause severe birth defects). She went on to help establish the rules for clinical trials and directed the surveillance of drug testing at the FDA.
Roxcy Bolton (1926-present)
20th Century women’s rights pioneer
Roxcy Boltonis a lifetime advocate and activist for women’s rights. She founded Florida’s first battered women’s shelter (1972) and the nation’s first hospital-based Rape Treatment Center (1974). Her extensive work includes lobbying for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and convincing NOAA to name hurricanes after both women and men.
Arden Eversmeyer (1931-present)
The Old Lesbian Herstory Project, founder
Arden Eversmeyer founded the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project (1999), to ensure that the stories of lesbians born in the first part of the 20th century, who were labeled “mentally ill”, fired from their jobs, rejected by their families, and even raped and murdered with impunity, are recorded in history.
Carmen Delgado Votaw (1935-present)
International women’s rights activist
Carmen Delgado Votaw is a leading advocate for girls and women’s rights both nationally and internationally. She served on the International Women’s Year Committee, worked with the first United Nations Conference on Women, and has significantly influenced the advancement of women in Latin America.
Ann Lewis (1937-present)
Women’s rights organizer and women’s history advocate
Ann Lewis is a leaderof progressive political reform focusing on the importance of civic involvement, health-care reform, economic and work-family policies, and international and national women’s rights. She served as a White House Communication Director and is a national commentator on public policy.
Jaida Im (1961-present)
Advocate for survivors of human trafficking
Jaida Im founded Freedom House (2010), the first residential shelter and aftercare program for adult female survivors of human trafficking in Northern California. In 2013,Freedom House opened a similar shelter for girls. The organization already has served hundreds of survivors, offering holistic case management, counseling, and educational and job-training resources.
Tammy Duckworth (1968-present)
Member of Congressand Iraq War veteran
Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and U.S. Representative from Illinois. Recognized for her commitment to serving veterans with disabilities, she seeks mandatory government funding of veterans’ healthcare and improvements in transition assistance. She is the first woman with a disability elected to the House of Representatives.
Lisa Taylor (1974-present)
Civil Rights attorney
Lisa Taylor is a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice where she has enforced the rights of HIV victims, autistic children, and educational opportunities for minority students. As aNaval officer shechallenged sexual harassment and aided in establishing her ship’s first anti-harassment program.
For more information about Women’s History Month, go to www.nwhp.org.