Women's History Month.
by Denise Berger
Annually in March, around the world we honor the impact of women in history, with official international recognition taking place on March 8th. Why was an official day, week and, finally, (in the USA) a month declared for this honor? On the surface it might seem peculiar, doesn't it? We certainly do not have a similar designation to honor men. Dale Spender in the Forward of Historica's Women suggests we officially recognize the impact of women in history now because throughout time the record keepers have not been female and therefore history, in and of itself, documents men's achievements.
"What are the places and roles of women in society? Women and men have debated these questions in caves, homes, parliaments, churches, universities, medical offices, coffeeshops and bars... the answers have been numerous - there is not just one place for women, but many." Prior to the 1970s there was very little focus on the chronicles of women in history. And yet, we can now all point to many women who made an impact on society through their presence, tenacity, values and passions: Ancient mythical goddesses known for power and influence; Cleopatra of Egypt, one of the most renowned female leaders; the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors; the philanthropist, Lady Godiva; prioress and theologian, Heloise, of the Oratory of the Paraclete in France; victorious Lady Agnes Randolph of Scotland; the most famous martyr, Joan of Arc; leadership force behind the man, Hino Tomiko, wife of 8th shogun in Japan; respected powerful leader, Empress Catherine of Russia; Marie Antoinette; Amelia Earheart; Florence Nightingale, to name only a few. The feminist movement of the 1960s brought out the interest for greater visibility of women through the ages and simultaneously raised the aspirations of women to study their impact. So, while older forms of capturing history focused almost exclusively on politics, by the 1970s history books began casting a wider net to include areas of social history such as ethnic dynamics, public health, and economic status.