“I feel like a lot of the conversation in life with women in general have helped me become who I am,” said Kammy Shepherd, a sophomore studying communication. “Without those conversations I wouldn’t have gotten where I am now.”
Every March, National Women’s History Month is celebrated, and the Library of Congress and National Gallery of Art, among other institutions, join in by “commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history,” according to womenshistorymonth.gov.
“The 2017 theme for National Women’s History Month honors women who have successfully challenged the role of women in both business and the paid labor force,” according to nwph.org. “Women have always worked, but often their work has been undervalued and unpaid.”
Presentations honoring women’s achievements throughout history started on March 2 and will be held until April 7 in different locations, such as the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to womenshistorymonth.gov.
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, men and women have worked together to build this nation,” said President Jimmy Carter in an address to the nation during the National Women’s History celebration in 1980, according to nwph.org.”Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
National Women’s History Month started as a “Women’s History Week” by the Education Task Force of Sonoma County, California in 1978, according to nwph.org. It then transitioned into a movement, founded in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.
“The person that has impacted me the most is Jane Goodall,” said Michelle Burdge, a sophomore studying art. “She is a very strong woman and a leading scientist in our time. She did something that nobody else did so she has inspired me to strive and do the best that I can to find my own path.”
Today, the Women’s History celebration has evolved into diverse types of exhibits and collections focusing on fields such as Arts and Design, Culture and Folklife, Government Politics and Law, Historic Newspapers, Historic Sites, History, Performing Arts, Social Media, Women and War, and Women’s Rights, according to womenshistorymonth.gov.
“Facing stark inequalities in the workplace (lower wages, poor working conditions and limited opportunities), they fought to make the workplace a less hostile environment for women,” according to nwph.org. “They succeeded in expanding women’s participation in commerce and their power in the paid labor force. As labor and business leaders and innovators they defied the social mores of their times by demonstrating women’s ability to create organizations and establish their own businesses that paved the way for better working conditions and wages for themselves and other women.”
As this month goes on, the influence women have on those around them is remembered and celebrated. According to the book “The Power of Women” by psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, there are certain mental strengths, such as the instinct to manage scarce resources or the anticipating consequences of decisions — together, those strengths give all women a powerful influence during these revolutionary times.
“A woman that has inspired and changed my life [is] my grandma,” said Lucero Felix, a junior studying Spanish. “She had to raise 3 daughters by herself. She worked really hard all the time to provide for them. Now of them have [a] master’s education because of her.”
Whether we are women or have women in our lives — sisters, daughters, mothers, wives or friends — there is no doubt that women throughout history influence us with their stories of courage, strength and inspiration.