Every March, Women’s History Month provides the space to remember and honor the accomplishments of trailblazing women and girls who were instrumental in building our communities. 

Women’s history was birthed in the 20th century as an academic discipline to push and recognize the achievements of women and a movement to ensure equal access to academic institutions where history is taught. 

According to National Geographic, women were widely excluded from history texts as historians were almost entirely men. In the 19th century, a group of feminist historians searched for the traces of women. 

Although women were often left out of history books, a few notable figures are Mary Beard, who wrote a series of books about American women and their historical agency; and Eleanor Flexner, who wrote Century of Struggle, a pioneering 1959 work about the American suffrage movement

As the women's liberation movement gained traction in late 1960, Gerda Lerner, a historian at Sarah Lawrence College joined colleagues in creating the nation's first master’s degree program in women’s history. 

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. 

To correspond with International Women's Day, organizers selected the week of March 8, and the movement spread across the country. 

It was until 1980 that a consortium of women’s groups and historians, who were led by the National Women’s History Project, now known as the National Women's History Alliance), lobbied for national recognition. 

President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential proclamation in February 1980, declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. 

Congress later passed Public Law 100-9 in 1987 which designated March as “Women’s History Month. Additional resolutions were passed by congress between 1988 and 1994 requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of every year as Women’s History Month. 

It was until 1995 that each president issued an annual proclamation to designates March as “Women’s History Month” on an annual basis. 

President Joe Biden acknowledged the systematic barriers that women and girls, especially women and girls of color, still face in the United States despite progress being made. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated those disparities which have disproportionately impacted women’s labor force participation, multiplied the burden on paid and unpaid caregivers, and increased rates of gender-based violence. The constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade is facing an unprecedented assault as States pass increasingly onerous restrictions to critical reproductive health care and bodily autonomy. Workers contend with gender and racial wage gaps that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars denied throughout their lifetimes,” Biden wrote in the annual proclamation.

The National Women’s History Alliance publishes an annual theme for Women’s History Month. Last year’s theme was “Valliant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced”. 

The women’s History theme for 2022 is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”, as a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the pandemic, and also recognition of the thousands of ways women of all cultures have provided healing and hope throughout history. 

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