In 1848, about 300 U.S. women and 40 men gathered in Seneca Falls for the very first women’s rights convention, calling for change in women’s social conditions. After over a century of protests and reforms, the U.S. Congress met in 1981 to request that a week in March be proclaimed “Women’s History Week.” The week was expanded into a month between 1987 and 1994, and Women’s History Month continues standing strong in 2014.
Women’s History Month recognizes the contributions of women throughout history, which were often made in oppressive male-dominated societies. Honoring these legacies encourages future generations of women to work toward their aspirations.
Furthermore, the month raises awareness of the current-day issues regarding women. Even in the U.S., inequity pervades in society. 2013 data from the U.S. Bureau of Life Statistics reveals that the median weekly income of women is still less than men in almost every single profession, hardly different from how it was a decade ago. Along with workplace discrimination, unjust social norms dictate women’s lives; for example, wives may be expected to perform domestic labor while their husbands rest after the same long day of work.
Nonetheless, there has been progress for women in some areas. According to an extensive 2011 White House study, women have caught up with men in college attendance and are more likely to graduate. Also, sexual assault, which primarily affects women, has decreased by more than half since 1993 according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
“As we honor the many women who have shaped our history, let us also celebrate those who make progress in our time. Let us remember that when women succeed, America succeeds,” President Barack Obama said in his proclamation of Women’s History Month 2014, according to whitehouse.gov.