Women’s History Month: Strong and Invincible
Happy Women’s History Month! This celebration is a great opportunity to talk to children of both genders about some of the amazing things women have done through the years, often without recognition. Learning about the many economic, political, and social achievements of women—often despite the odds—can encourage children to achieve their own goals. Give it a try. You may also spark lively discussions about respect, rights, and change at the dinner table!
Women’s History Month was inspired by a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history, and society organized by a school district in Sonoma, California, in 1978. In 1987, Congress officially designated the month of March as Women’s History Month. This monthlong period of recognition is a time to add “herstory” to history.
Children growing up in a postliberation era may be surprised to learn that women weren’t even permitted to vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920—after nearly a century of protests and lobbying by women’s rights activists. Talking with your kids about the battle for equal rights can kick off interesting family discussions and deliver a powerful lesson in citizenship, democracy, and why voting is important.
As it says in Helen Reddy’s song “I Am Woman,” which became the anthem for the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s, “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore.” The contribution of women to history and society can no longer be ignored! Through the years, countless women have worked on the front lines of the issues, determined to leave the world better than they found it. This post pays homage to just a few of those women so that you can share their stories with your children. Visit the Women’s History Museum website to explore even more strong, courageous women!
Alice Paul: Paul was a powerful voice in the women’s suffrage movement and was also a feminist and political strategist. Paul was one of the leaders in the campaign for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination in the right to vote. Paul planned and organized events such as the Silent Sentinels and the Woman Suffrage Procession, which were part of the successful campaign that resulted in the amendment’s passage into law in 1920.
Harriet Tubman: Tubman was an American abolitionist who was born into slavery. However, Tubman was able to escape and subsequently made thirteen missions to rescue other slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry. During the Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the United States Army. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the struggle for women’s suffrage.
Maya Lin: Lin is a well-known artist and architect. She was a 21-year-old undergraduate at Yale University when she won a competition to design her most famous work, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was constructed in the early 1980s in Washington, DC. Lin’s masterpiece is considered one of the most influential memorials of the post–World War II period and is one of the capital’s most visited monuments.
Sonia Sotomayor: Nominated by President Barack Obama on May 26, 2009, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in United States history. Sotomayor was also nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 and was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
These are just a few women who are threads in the fabric of history and society. I challenge you to celebrate not only these women but also every woman in your life who is making a difference. Now, sing along with me, “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman,” as we celebrate all March long.
What special woman in your life will you honor this Women’s History Month? Share your selections in the comments.