National Women’s History Month & International Women’s Day 3/8

March is National Women’s History Month
March 8 is Int’l Women’s Day
Think globally, act locally!
“In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day.”
First Presidential Proclamation (1980)

In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we are including a copy of the first proclamation issued to the nation in recognizing and celebrating women’s historic achievements. 
For the full history of National Women’s History Month, visit the Women’s History Month section of our website

President Jimmy Carter’s Message to the nation designating March 2-8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

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. 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.

As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, “Women’s History is Women’s Right.” – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.”

I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980.

I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality – – Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul.

Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people.

This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “Equality of Rights under the Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

From, 3/4/09:

The first International Women’s Day, IWD was in 1911. It followed unanimous agreement at an International Conference of Working Women the previous year.

Clara Zetkin proposed that every year in every country there should be one same day when women’s solidarity presses for equality.

In 1869 British MP John Stuart Mill was the first person in Parliament to call for women’s right to vote. On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Women in other countries did not enjoy this equality and campaigned for justice for many years.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

From, 3/26/09: 

What Every Woman Should Know: Women’s Political Firsts Sampler

In Political, Women’s Rights on 03/22/2009 at 10:01 pm

Despite scattered examples throughout history, such as Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria, women have only recently been afforded any opportunity to participate meaningfully in politics. In America it was not until 1916 that a woman was elected to national office, and scant few examples of local political women preceded Jeannette Rankin’s 1916 victory in Montana. Except in a very few cases, American women’s political participation begins after they won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.

But still barriers remained. I still recall with a fair amount of anger listening to younger women comment for years about how they could not respect Hillary Clinton because her accomplishments were built on her husband’s. Never mind that it isn’t even true, and it wouldn’t take two seconds of awareness to figure that out. That I can forgive. What angered (and continues to anger me) about those comments is that for generations married women with political connections where the only women who could get elected. These are the role models that Hillary Clinton grew up with.  It’s similar to the deriding Sarah Palin had to contend with because she was a beauty queen in an era when beauty contests where one of the few avenues to getting a college education for women who had to pay their own tuition.

These women did not create the patriarchal rules under which we have lived and continue to live, they have merely paid the price for our ignorance of our own history. That is one of the many reasons the historical agenda exists. We have to have context so that we can suspend that needless judgment, and appreciate what we have come to accomplish. Our achievements in the context of time–less than 100 years after Rankin and the 19th Amendment–are immense. We fight on, keeping the women in this Sampler in our minds, aware of the debt we owe to the past and future.

Jeanette Pickering Rankin (1880-1973, R-Montana) The first woman elected to congress, Rankin, a Republican, was elected before women had the right to vote in federal elections. She was also the first women of any western Democracy to be elected to a national legislative body. She achieved this feat after working tirelessly on behalf of women’s suffrage, and spearheading a campaign to bring the vote to Montana women, which was won in 1914. Read more about her her

Mary Teresa Hopkins Norton (1875-1951, D-New Jersey) One of the first women elected to the House after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Norton was the first to be elected from an eastern state (NJ) and the first female Democrat who was not preceded by her husband. She was also the first woman to head a major committee, and the first to head a major state party organization (New Jersey Democratic Committee). Norton advocated for women workers. Read more about her here.

Nellie Tayloe Ross (1876-1977, D-Wyoming) The nation’s first female governor, Ross was elected the same day as Miriam Ferguson of Texas, but she was inaugurated first and thus claims her place in history. She succeeded her husband, Bradford Ross. She was widowed shortly before she was elected. She advocated for tax relief, school budgets, and responsible banking practices. She was later appointed vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee and served as Director of the U. S. Mint, the first woman to hold such a federal post. Read more about her here.

Bertha Ethel Knight Landes (1868-1949, Seattle, WA) First woman elected as mayor of a major city. Read more about her here.

Ruth Bryan Owen (1885-1954, D-Florida) The first woman elected to the House from South, Bryan Owen was the daughter of William Jennings Bryan, of Scopes Monkey Trial (1925) fame. She advocated for a Cabinet- level Department of the Home and Child and authored legislation that created Everglades National Park. She was the first congresswoman to serve on a major committee. She was later appointed minister to Denmark by President Roosevelt, another first for women. She was also appointed to the drafting committee for the United Nations charter. Read more about her here.

1940 & 1948
Margaret Madeline Chase Smith (1897-1995, R-Maine) The first woman elected to both the House and Senate, she was also the first woman elected to the Senate. Smith began her political career as her husband’s secretary (Rep. Clyde Smith), and she succeeded her husband upon his death. Smith was elected to the Senate in 1948 and served until her retirement in 1973. She ran for the GOP nomination for president in 1964, the first women to do so for either major party. Read more about her here.

Barbara Jordan (1936-1996, D-Texas) The first African American woman elected, and re-elected, to the House of Representatives from the South. She rose to national prominence in her role on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon’s impeachment hearings. In 1976, she became the first woman and the first African American to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Jordan advocated for Constitutional integrity. Read more about her here.

Nancy Landon Kassebaum (1932-, R-Kansas) The first woman elected to the US Senate who was not preceded by her husband. Her father, however, was governor of Kansas. She was the only woman in the Senate when she was elected in 1978. Kassebaum advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment and for women to serve in the draft. She became the first woman to head up a U.S. Senate Committee in 1995, when she was appointed Chair of the Labor and Human Resources Committee. Kassebaum retired in 1997. Read more about her here.

What Every Woman Should Know is a bi-weekly series on American Women’s History. The series is weekly in March, which is Women’s History Month.


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