It's Women's History Month!

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March is Women's History Month, a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that encourages all Americans to reflect on the ways in which women have shaped U.S. history. But how did this celebration come to be, and why is it held in March?

"I long to hear that you have declared an independency, and by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies..."-- Abigail Adams, March 31, 1776

Almost two hundred years after Abigail Adams made this request to her husband, John, the passage of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments meant no person could be denied the benefits of a federally funded educational program or activity on the basis of gender.

In 1977, to help school principals comply with Title IX regulations, an education task force in Sonoma County, California recommended a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978. The task force believed that school and community events highlighting and celebrating the contributions of American women would help provide a foundation and rationale for Title IX changes.

The commission chose the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women's Day, which had been established in the early 1900s to honor the movement for women's rights.

Within a few years, dozens of California schools were participating in Women's History Week. In 1979, representatives from the Sonoma County Women's History Week group shared their experiences with national leaders of women's organizations at a Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. And word of the Women's History Week celebrations spread.

In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a message encouraging Americans to recognize and celebrate women's historic accomplishments during the week of March 8th, Women's History Week. Later that year, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Maryland Representative Barbara Mikulski co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution declaring a "National Women's History Week" for the week of March 8, 1981. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.

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