~ by Carol Vartuli
A March Challenge
- Who originated the concept of a cotton gin and helped solve the mechanical problems encountered by patent-holder Eli Whitney (1794)? ____________
- Who initiated the Environmental movement, in 1962, with the pathbreaking book Silent Spring? ____________
- Who architected the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C as a 21-year- old college student? ____________
If the answers didn't pop into your mind, here's a clue: They were all women.
If you're still stumped, you'll find their names --- and many, many others -- on the quiz page of the National Women's History Alliance. March is Women's History Month.
Celebrating Women's Contributions
Although integral to America's earliest history, women's contributions to art, science, politics, human rights and society were not always widely acknowledged.
In a Presidential Address in 1980, President Jimmy Carter said that "from the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families, 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."
On that day, Carter declared March 2 - 9 National Women's History Week. He called out women who had struggled for equality – – Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul. He stressed that "Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people."
A Long Road, Still Traveled
Fifty-seven years earlier, in 1923, the National Women's Party proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to provide legal equality of the sexes and prohibit discrimination based on gender.
In 1982, the U.S. Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment, but it still needed
approval by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, and ratification by the three-quarters of the states. In 2020, Virginia became the 38th and final state to ratify the ERA.
In January 2023, several members of Congress filed a joint resolution to accept the ratification of the ERA and recognize it as part of the Constitution.
If the ERA becomes the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution this year, it will happen on the 100th Anniversary of the amendment's travel through history.
National Women's History Week Month
Women's History Week became Women's History Month when the National Women's History Project petitioned the U.S. Congress to expand the designation to the entire month of March.
The 2023 theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories," to recognize all women who have "devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade."
Worldwide Recognition of Women
Every March 8 is observed around the world as International Women's Day to build support for women's rights in all countries and is officially recognized by the United Nations. Embracing Equity is this year's theme.
When we embrace equity, we embrace diversity, and we embrace inclusion.
We embrace equity to forge harmony and unity, and to help drive success for all.
Equality is the goal, and equity is the means to get there.
Through the process of equity, we can reach equality.
- Catherine Greene, Feb. 17, 1755 – Sept. 2, 1814
- Rachel Carson, May 27, 1907 – Apr. 14, 1964
- Maya Lin, Oct. 5, 1959 -