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How did Women's History Month begin in the US?

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Question: How did Women's History Month begin in the US?
Women's History Month began as a grassroots effort to recognize and honor the contributions of women - contributions that were largely ignored by the US educational system up through the 1970s.
Answer: The first organization within the US to successfully promote the idea of a "Women's History Week" was the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County, California Commission on the Status of Women. In 1978, the group selected the week of March 8 for Women's History Week in order to coincide with International Women's Day which is celebrated on March 8th.

Area schools eagerly adopted the idea of Women's History Week, and within a few years the Sonoma County town of Santa Rosa became the epicenter of the celebration with an annual parade and programs observing the event.

1n 1979 at the Women's History Institutes at Sarah Lawrence College - a gathering of national leaders of organizations for women and girls - Sonoma County's Women's History Week idea was embraced by participants. They agreed to introduce the annual celebration to groups and school districts in their respective regions and support an effort to obtain national recognition of the weeklong observance.

In 1981, the first Joint Congressional Resolution declaring a National Women's History Week was co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).

A group founded by five women in Santa Rosa in 1980 - the National Women's History Project (NWHP) - led a coalition to urge that the nationally-recognized celebration be expanded, and that the entire month of March be designated as Women's History Month.

In 1987, the NWHP petitioned Congress and the National Women's History Month Resolution was approved with bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

Source:
"History of National Women's History Month." National Women's History Project nwhp.org, retrieved 28 February 2009.

For a more detailed account of the history of Women's History Month, see the About.com Women's History article "Women's History Month" by Jone Johnson Lewis.

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