Wednesday, March 3, 2010

50: The Self-Empowered Woman - Women's History Month

Dear Followers,

Sorry for the gap in blogs, but the Olympics captured my attention more than they should have. Anyway, I'm back on track and ready to share more stories.

Next week I'll be speaking at the West Palm Beach Library as part of their Women's History Month program (March 16th, 4 to 5pm, Clematis Room), so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to explore how Women's History Month came into being.

In 1911, in Europe, International Women's Day was celebrated on March 8th. At that time suffrage (the right of women to vote) was gathering momentum and a number of books were published about women's contribution to history.

But with the Great Depression (which took place on both sides of the Atlantic) and the military activity of World War II, the subject of women's rights fell out of fashion. But during the next two decades the boredom and isolation that middle-class housewives felt after setting aside their own goals became known as "the problem that has no name."

Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique and Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex helped raise awareness of women's issues. By the 1970s, many colleges introduced women's studies into their program and historians began acknowledging the roles of Native Americans, Black Americans and women as part of our country's historical development.

In 1978, a Women's History Week celebration, which was chosen to coincide with the original International Women's Day, began in California. In 1981, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution establishing National Women's History Week, and six years later Congress stretched the week into a month. Since 1987, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation of Women's History Month.

The purpose of Women's History Month is to take one month of the year to remember the contributions of notable and ordinary women by expanding the knowledge of women's history. It is hoped that one day history will neither be taught nor learned without acknowledging the role of women.

Looking forward to your comments...

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