By Tracey Dowdy
National Women’s History Month traces its roots back to a March 8, 1857, protest when women from factories all over New York City spoke out against their miserable working conditions. The first Women’s Day celebration wasn’t for another 12 years. It took another seventy years before Congress in 1981 established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated annually the second week of March. Finally, in 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.
Of course, most schools will incorporate Women’s History Month into their curricula, but it’s important that parents talk about it at home as well. It can be as simple as a conversation over dinner or as intentional as watching a documentary or visiting a museum.
“It focuses on the social-emotional development of being a good person, kind and strong,” says Joy Turner, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy, a franchise system of early learning centers with more than 250 academies in 30 states and the District of Columbia. “All of those components have led the women throughout history to be historical.”
Remind your children that we celebrate things so that we remember them, and perhaps there’s no better way to make Women’s History Month real to your children than to make it personal. Talk about struggles your grandmother or her mother overcame to lead her family. Talk about what life was like as an immigrant, or without access to healthcare, or even the technology we have today. Talk about women in positions of authority like Vice President Harris. She is the first female, first black, and first Asian-American VP in America’s 243-year history, or Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut, and the struggles and opposition they would have faced in male-dominated fields.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of having these conversations with your girls. “It’s important for boys and young men to understand that women are just as powerful as men, and we have the ability to do anything, just like they can,” says Justine Green, Ed.D, the principal of Tamim Academy in Boca Raton, Florida.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.