“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” — Ada Lovelace
March is Women’s History Month! This is a month dedicated to the recognition and celebration of women and all they do to make the world a better place, both past and present.
History of National Women’s History Month
Interestingly, Sonoma County history and the history behind Women’s History Month are not unrelated. The origins of Women’s History Month can be traced back to our very doorstep. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, “As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness.” In 1978, in response to this gap in curriculum and public discourse, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women created a “Women’s History Week'' celebration.
Over 100 women participated in the week-long celebration by giving presentations at numerous schools, along with hundreds of students that entered into the “Real Woman” Essay Contest. The week ended on a high note with a grand parade held in downtown Santa Rosa.
This successful weeklong celebration of women caught the positive attention of many across the state and nation, with many communities, schools, and organizations all wanting to model and build upon what was done right here in Sonoma County. Just a few years after the first Women’s History Week in Sonoma County, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women’s History Week. The Week was supported by many governors, cities, and school boards.
In 1981, Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, authorizing and requesting the President of the United States to proclaim March 7, 1982, the beginning of “Women’s History Week.” By 1987, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, each U.S. President has issued an annual proclamation designating march as “Women’s History Month.”
Why it’s Important:
Women’s History Month is important for various reasons. For one, it provides space for us to highlight the all too often overlooked and overshadowed accomplishments and contributions women have made in all facets of our societies. This month also gives us a chance to step back and reflect on women in our own lives and how we can honor and uplift them. In addition to recognizing the strides women have made in this country, this month is also an opportune time to reflect on the continued struggles and strife of various groups of women.
Women’s History Month is significant because it is a time for education and empowerment; to educate ourselves on all the varying and intersecting identities of women, and to admire the complexity and diversity of women, in order to uplift and highlight all women and their varying needs and struggles.
How You Can Celebrate:
Here are just a few ways that you can celebrate and honor women this month:
- Explore the history of women’s rights
- Learn about issues women still face today
- Support a women’s nonprofit
- Become a mentor to young women
- Support women-owned businesses
- Participate in political advocacy
- Research intersectionality
- Listen to women: read their books, listen to their podcasts, talk to a friend or family member
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Multicultural Roots Project will be highlighting four local women who have and who are making noteworthy contributions in both our local community and beyond. These amazing women include Charlie Toledo, Bernice ‘bere’ Espinoza, Rima Makaryan, and Grace Cheung-Schulman. We also encourage our readers to take a look at some of the incredible stories highlighted since November 2020 and learn about the many personal journeys, contributions, impacts and pivotal roles each woman has played in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County’s history.
Just a few of our previous stories highlighting powerful women in our community:
This story was researched and written by Madelynn Cox, Community Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA.
To learn more about this story visit the links below:
Women's History Month 2022
Why March is National Women's History Month
An intersectional guide to Women's History Month
About Women's History Month