What Women’s History Month Celebrates

Updated: Apr 18

By Cindy Ma


Image by the Smithsonian Institution


The celebration of women’s history began in the 1900s at the peak of activist campaigns against oppression and inequality against women, steaming from the historic march through New York for better pay and voting rights in 1908. In 1910, Clara Zetkin, an advocate for women's rights, proposed a worldwide day to celebrate women annually. This day was finally formally recognized by the UN in 1977. This evolved into Women’s History Week in 1978 in Sonoma County, California as a way to commemorate the adversity women faced to gain equal rights. It was nationally recognized by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. By 1987, Congress passed Public Law designating March to Women’s History Month and was subsequently recognized by each president afterwards.


Women’s History Month is meant to recognize the many battles fought against sex-based discrimination. It promotes female empowerment and highlights the contributions of women in history and society today. The devotion of women like Rosa Parks, Jane Roe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many more is the reason people across the world are striving to do better in bridging the gender gaps. With many fights still to come, it is important to recognize those that got us to where we are today.


To many young girls like myself, women’s history means we have the privilege to equal education, future voting rights, full-body autonomy and the opportunity to make big changes within our society. By highlighting these accomplishments, it recognizes women's history that goes unrecognized and goes undocumented. We can celebrate by consuming media dedicated to educating us on the trials and tribulations women had to go through listed down below that I have personally enjoyed.


Books:

  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen This story follows its main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with morality, marriage and education.

  • We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie This is an essay book on the meaning of feminism in the 21st century. The author draws on her own experiences to define the misconstructions around feminism and what can be done to change that.

  • Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi This graphic novel follows Satrapi’s own life from ages ten to fourteen during the Islamic Revolution and the segregation of boys and girls in school.

  • The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath This classic details the life of Esther Greenwood, a college student who dreams of becoming a poet. She struggles with issues of identity and societal norms.

  • Educated - Tara Westover Educated serves as a memoir to Westover’s struggles against her family's devout, isolationist religious beliefs and fights for education.


Films and Documentaries:

  • On the Basis of Sex This movie is based on the early stages of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career.

  • Hidden Figures This is the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program based on a true story.

  • Made in Dagenham This is based on the strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant in 1968 where 187 women factory workers led a law-reforming strike, demanding the eradication of sexual discrimination in the workplace.

  • The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson This documentary exemplifies Victoria Cruz as she investigates the mysterious 1992 death of black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson.

  • The Hunting Ground This documentary highlights the staggering statistics of rape culture in universities around the United States. It also sheds light on rationalization, victim-blaming, and denial at the expense of women not having a safe space even at their own schools.


Written by writer Cindy Ma

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