The idea to set aside time to recognize the important role that women play in society was years in the making. Europeans began celebrating March 8th as International Women’s Day in 1911 to recognize the women’s suffrage; however, the U.S. had no such day. Efforts here to recognize women were interrupted by the Great Depression and WWII. It would take over 40 years for Congress to officially declare March as “National Women’s History Month” in 1987.
This month is set aside to recognize the important contributions that women make to our society and the successes that we have achieved. Women today don’t realize that so many of the freedoms we enjoy now, women of the past did not; things such as voting, owning property, applying for credit and even wearing pants!
We also take for granted that women have had to wait years to hold the same occupations as men:
1981 – first woman on the Supreme Court
1998 – first woman U.S. combat pilot
2014 – first woman CEO of a major global automaker (GM)
2014 – first 4-star Admiral in the U.S. Navy
2017 – first woman ringmaster of the Ringling Barnum and Bailey Circus in 146 years
Women’s History Month is also to remind us that there is still much to achieve:
- Equal pay – women earn on average only 77 cents for every $1 earned by men
- Only 14% of the CEO’s in the U.S. are women
- Only 20% of the members of the Senate and the House are women
- No woman has served as a member of Joint Chiefs of Staff
- No woman has served as Director of the FBI or CIA
- No woman has served as a U.S. Navy Seal
- No woman has been elected as President of the United States
I hope you will join me in not only remembering the women who came before us and paved the way, but by being active and supporting your local BPW, it helps show your commitment to the continued advancement of women and women’s issues.