Celebrating Women's History Month - South Sound YMCA

Celebrating Women’s History Month

By Lesli Baker

MARCH is Women’s History Month!

The nation’s first Women’s Day celebration was in New York City in 1909. By the early 1980s, cities and states across the county were marking the occasion and Congress passed a resolution designating March as Women’s History Month in 1987. Since 1995, every president has issued a proclamation declaring March Women’s History Month usually with a statement about its importance.

Here are some important facts to consider during Women’s History Month.

The 2023 Women’s History Month theme is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories. This year, the National Women’s History Alliance “will encourage the recognition of women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, news, and social media.”

Wyoming Territory was the first place to grant women the right to vote.

The Wyoming Territorial legislature gave every woman the right to vote in 1869. They elected the country’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, in 1924.

The 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was signed into law on August 26, 1920. But at the time, a number of other laws prohibited Native American women, Black women, Asian American women, and Latinx women from voting, among others. It wasn’t until 1924 that Native women born in the United States were granted citizenship, allowing them to vote.

Women couldn’t get credit cards on their own until 1974.

Until Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, women couldn’t get credit cards in their own name. Often, they had to bring a man along to cosign for them, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Legal work done by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laid the foundation for the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as well as many other basic rights women have today, including the ability to attend state-funded schools, protection from pregnancy discrimination at work, and the ability to serve on juries.

The gender pay gap persists.

Despite the ever-growing number of women getting degrees, the gender pay gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. In 2020, women earned 84% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of both full- and part-time workers. The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent analysis of only full-time workers (2019) found that women earned 82% of what their male counterparts earned. And, while women are paid 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes, that gap widens even more for women of color, according to 2020 data by the National Women’s Law Center.

Kamala Harris is the first woman and woman of color to serve as Vice President.

After winning the 2020 presidential election with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris is making history as the first woman, first Black woman, and first Asian American vice president in U.S. history.