Did you know that, like so many wonderful things, women’s history month has its roots in California? In 1978, when the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women realized that the contributions of women to American history were virtually invisible both in California’s K-12 scholastic curriculum and in public knowledge, they decided to do something about it. Thanks to the efforts of the commission and over one-hundred women volunteers, Women’s History Week was established and celebrated in California with special school programs and a parade in downtown Santa Rosa, California.
Molly Murphy MacGregor, a member of the National Women’s History Project, and Gerda Lerner, noted historian and then-chair of the Women’s History Institute of Sarah Lawrence College, were instrumental in igniting the fire of inspiration that eventually made a national celebration of women’s contributions a reality. After much work and organizing by the two groups, the first Presidential Proclamation of National Women’s History Week was issued in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. The idea found wide-ranging political support and, in 1981, Representative Barbara Mikulski and Senator Orrin Hatch co-sponsored a Congressional Resolution that secured National Women’s History Week. By 1986, several states were independently recognizing March as Women’s History Month, and congress made it official in 1987, when March was declared National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.
Women’s History Month Honoring Women in Business and Labor
In 2017, the theme of the National Women’s History Project is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Honorees are women who’ve succeeded in every field, including labor leaders, activists, and businesswomen from America’s past and present. A few of the notables include:
- Alexis Herman — Former Secretary of Labor
- Lilly Ledbetter — Equal Pay Activist
- Nina Vaca — CEO and Chairman of Pinnacle Group
- Kate Mullany — Organized the first All-Female Labor Union
International Women’s Day is honored on March 8 and is a global celebration of the social, political, and economic achievements of women around the world. Take time this month to learn more about the historic achievements of women in the world of business. Better yet, let history inspire you to achieve goals of your own!