March is the month of women. In many parts of the world International Women’s Day (8 March) celebrations are strengthened by making March Women’s History Month.
Women’s History Month originated in the United States. It started with a school system in California recognising that the history of women was missing from their curriculum, and initiating a Women’s History Week celebration in 1978 to help fill the gap. The idea caught on in a big way. These days Women’s History Month in the United States is such a big deal it is the subject of a Presidential Proclamation. Read here for the 2018 one.
In Australia, Women’s History Month seems to have had a more patchy uptake. The month was first celebrated in Australia in 2000. It was initiated by Helen Leonard, convenor of the National Women’s Media Centre (1989 to 2003), working with the Women’s Electoral Lobby.
Women’s History Month highlighted a different theme each year. Organisations, institutions and community groups were encouraged to use this theme for their own events through website promotional material and were supported by an online calendar where events were listed.
In 2007, the Women’s History Month website was upgraded and renamed the Australian Women’s History Forum. The plan was to develop a more interactive role for the group’s membership, which would extend beyond the one month celebration. Women’s History Month continued on-line for another six years, ending in 2013. It seems a key factor in its demise was it was unable to move beyond the small volunteer force that had initiated the event.
GOLD STAR to these Women’s History Month in Australia pioneers who kept it going for more than ten years.
Do you think Australia needs Women’s History Month? How do you think it could be kicked off again? Or are you already celebrating Women’s History Month?