Origins of Women's History Month
For many years, women's history was overlooked and ignored as unimportant or insignificant. In the late 70's, with more and more focus being drawn to women's issues, this gap in historical studies came to the attention of academics and intellectuals nationwide, leading to a push for recognition of women's work throughout this country's history.
Founding Women's History Month
What began as a weeklong celebration in March dedicated by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women in 1978, soon became a nationwide movement. With much support from important female leaders and educators across the country, the issue found presidential support by 1980, and Congress requested it be nationally recognized in 1982. In the years since, presidents have issued declarations acknowledging women's history week in March, and beginning in 1995, it became a full month dedicated to the study, observation and acknowledgment of American women's contributions and achievements throughout history.
Now, many important historical organizations come together to celebrate and sponsor activities and resources for the commemoration of Women's History month each March, including the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and the National Parks Service.
Activity Ideas for Women's History Month
Below, find ideas for student activities to aid in the celebration of women's history month, and get students thinking about the role of women in major historical and cultural moments in American history.
Elementary and Middle School Students
- Women in the War: Divide the class into small groups, and assign each group a war in American history, and the role that women played in the war effort. Share and compare each group's findings, encouraging students to track the development of women's rights through the course of history based on the differences they see.
- Summit of Women Leaders: Ask students to select an important woman in history or contemporary culture, and create a presentation on her accomplishments. Then dedicate a day of class to hearing each student's reports on the woman they chose, her work, her legacy, and why she is an inspiration to them.
High School Students
- Waves of Feminism: Divide the class into thirds, and have each section study one of the waves of feminism. Each student in each section should focus on a specific topic or leader in that wave. Then have the groups share their findings, and compare and contrast ideals and leadership in each era of the feminist movement.
- Check out this study.com chapter on Sex and Gender in Society for lessons introducing on feminism and gender issues in contemporary culture.