Today is March 1, 2015, the first day of Women’s History Month, and the theme is Weaving The Stories Of Women’s Lives.
The website asks the important question, “Why Women’s History?”
The NWHP answers that question with a quote and a fantastic tour of their site:
Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less. ~ Myra Pollack Sadker
History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.
Multicultural American women are overlooked in most mainstream approaches to U.S. history, so the National Women’s History Project champions their accomplishments and leads the drive to write women back into history.
Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women.
With an emphasis on positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds, the NWHP has developed a nationwide constituency of teachers, students, parents, public employees, businesses, organizations, and individuals who understand the critical link between knowing about historical women and making a positive difference in today’s world.
The NWHP is the catalyst, the content provider, the behind-the-scenes director of a myriad of activities promoting women as leaders and influential forces in our society. For over 30 years, the NWHP, founded in Santa Rosa, California, has established a nationwide presence as the number one resource for information and material about the unfolding roles of women in American history. The NWHP leads both local and national efforts, consults, publishes, distributes, inspires, advises, and networks with a wide variety of institutions and activists in the field.
Every year in March, the NWHP coordinates observances of National Women’s History Month throughout the country. The NWHP originated this widely recognized celebration and sets the annual theme, produces educational materials, and chooses particular women to honor nationally for their work. Women’s History Month programs, community events, plays, essay contests, and related projects often have wide-ranging effects.
Every year the NWHP, in conjunction with academic institutions, holds workshops and conferences that highlight the role of women in particular areas, such as the Women of the West. These collaborative symposiums provide important opportunities for sharing research and stories about women’s roles, struggles, and successes today and throughout our history.
The NWHP also operates an award-winning web site, which makes information about women available and widely accessible. The site, www.nwhp.org, attracted over one million visitors last year making it the leading destination of its kind. Ongoing expansion and updating keep the site relevant and easy for students, journalists, and anyone else to use. Materials can also be ordered through the NWHP’s extensive online store.
In our own personal lives, the NWHP encourages discovering stories about our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers to help us better understand their lives, the challenges they faced, and ultimately, ourselves and our own times. Recognizing the dignity and accomplishments of women in our own families and those from other backgrounds leads to higher self-esteem among girls and greater respect among boys and men. The results can be remarkable, from greater achievement by girls in school to less violence against women, and more stable and cooperative communities.
The impact of women’s history might seem abstract to some, and less pressing than the immediate struggles of working women today. But to ignore the vital role that women’s dreams and accomplishments play in our own lives would be a great mistake. We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today. They are part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society.
A contribution to the NWHP will allow this well-known and nationally respected organization to expand its important work of writing women back into American history.
The Women’s Community Center of Central Texas will be celebrating this month by posting pieces of history on their Facebook and Twitter, and also by producing WE Con, an powerful gathering of women from all over our city, focused on empowerment and social justice.
This question, Why Women’s History, is important to answer. I’ve seen it posed too often, as if women are simply a subset of humanity, and not a culture of their own. All women; old and young, of all sizes and shapes, races and creeds, from the entire LGBT spectrum, trans and cis and the gender non-binary, have stories that must be told, histories that should be celebrated, gifts that should be put to the best use for making our world better.
This month I challenge you to celebrate and support all the women in your life. Listen to them, learn from them, show them your love. And know that Women’s History is half of humanity’s history. We would do well to know it all.