Approximately 50 percent of the world’s 7,784,456,081 humans are female. The Illinois Education Association, is composed of at least 72 percent women, 20 percent men and 8 percent non reporting. Seven out of our last ten SEA presidents have been women. And over 70 nations have had women lead their nations (Chandrika Kumartunga, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Angela
Merkel to name a few). It is impossible to dispute that women have played every bit as vital of a role in history as men. However, as recently as the 1970s, women’s history was all but ignored in school, and virtually ignored in most K-12 public school curriculums.
Incited by this inequity, in 1978 , the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week”. The local Women’s History Week activities met with tremendous response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week. Over one-hundred community women participated by doing special presentations in classrooms throughout the country and an annual “Real Woman” Essay Contest drew hundreds of entries. The finale for the week was a celebratory parade and program held in the center of downtown Santa Rosa, California.
Amidst positive pressure from activists and congresswomen, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. And only a few years later, in 1987, March was declared as Women’s History Month into perpetuity.
This year’s national March celebration of women has been historic in its own right due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you have been able to find a way to help our students continue to conceptualize the power of women in our world, their profound impact on our society and the Wonder Woman in themselves. If by chance you have not, never fear… there seem to be plenty of days ahead to accomplish that mission.