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It isn’t just one month of the year that we celebrate all of the amazing daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers all around us, but we do have a unique opportunity to do that in March.
Women’s History Month, now a staple on the March calendar, began with a “Women’s History Week” in Santa Rosa, Calif., in 1978. The movement spread nationally, and in 1980 then-President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation for the week, stating:
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed.”
In 1987, Congress passed a law declaring March as “Women’s History Month,” and every president since has issued a proclamation, according to WomensHistory.org. The National Women’s History Alliance takes the lead in organizing the annual celebration and highlighting the instrumental role women have played in our heritage. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” and the alliance will be sharing resources to help support local recognition of this special month.
A look at Women’s History Month wouldn’t be complete without a recap of the beginnings of the women’s rights movement in the United States. The first-ever women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. Three hundred people, mostly from the surrounding community, attended the gathering at Wesleyan Chapel, which is now a national historical park. Event organizer Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave an impassioned speech, along with abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The convention attendees settled on 11 resolutions, though at the time a resolution on voting rights failed to pass.
Though Susan B. Anthony was a pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement, she didn’t attend the Seneca Falls convention. She wouldn’t meet Cady Stanton until 1851. Anthony and Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Though she worked tirelessly to ensure rights for women, Anthony died before the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 that gave all adult women the right to vote.
Friendship Village senior living community in Schaumburg celebrates its wonderful female residents all year-round. This March, the community will be posting photos and blurbs highlighting the accomplishments of women residents in the large connector hall. It isn’t hard to find brave, accomplished, and influential women at Friendship Village. Some of those special ladies range from a retired physician to a former radio host to “a born caregiver and helper.”
A declaration from Seneca Falls may best sum up the importance of honoring women while echoing the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.” Lest we ever forget, Women’s History Month is here to remind us of that important truth.