March, as Women’s History Month (WHM), is when we celebrate how women have shaped the world throughout history. WHM began in the U.S. as Women’s History Week in 1978 – activists in California with the National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA) pushed for the week to be extended to a full month and were successful in 1987. Today it is recognized in the U.S., U.K, and Australia; Canada celebrates women’s history in October.
Each year a theme is declared by the National Women’s History Project and this year’s theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.”
The 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was established in 1920 thanks to the perseverance of many brave women and men, known as suffragists. The idea of votes for women had started gaining support in the 1840s and brought attention and momentum to the women’s rights movement that had been gaining traction since the 1780s. The movement established many rights and protections for women, such as the right to own property and control their own earnings and protections against discrimination and violence. The 19th Amendment did not grant the right to vote to Black women; Black women weren’t given the right to vote until African Americans were granted the right to vote in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
100 years later, in 2020 the U.S. elected our first female Vice President – Kamala Harris, who, as a bi-racial woman, is also our first African American vice president and our first south Asian vice-president. This is the highest office in the land yet held by a woman; hopefully we won’t wait another hundred years before our first female President.
In honor of 2021’s theme, here are some recommendations of materials celebrating the progress and contributions of women in the United States