Women’s History Month: So, How Did We Get Here?

5 girls in jeans and white tank holding hands, hands raised in air

Since 1987, March has been honored in the United States as Women’s History Month, a period dedicated to celebrating women's contributions to history, culture, and society. There are so many compelling women in history that championed feminism and women’s rights. Women have conquered numerous challenges to improve women’s health, economic opportunities, educational equity, and to end gender-based violence. Though the fight is long from over, we owe our current success to many outstanding women in our history. 

In July 1848, the first attempt to create a nationwide movement for women’s rights took place in Seneca Falls, New York. The Seneca Falls Convention was led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a young mother from upstate New York, and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker abolitionist. The meeting collected roughly 300 people, the majority of them women, to chart a path forward for the women’s rights movement. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are made equal," Stanton wrote in her "Declaration of Sentiments," a call to arms that mimicked the Declaration of Independence.

Due to economic and educational inequity, restrictive marriage and property rights laws, and social and cultural norms, women were deprived of the privileges that American men freely enjoyed. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass attended the Seneca Falls Convention to speak in favor of the proposed rights by Stanton. However, Mott and others objected to this provision, believing it was too radical. Eventually, the convention eventually approved Stanton's cutting edge requests. After first meeting in 1850, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a Massachusetts teacher, forged a lifetime alliance as women's rights activists. Like many other women reformers of the era, they spent their lives fighting to end women’s oppression. 

One thing we can learn from these iconic feminists is the very definition of feminism. Feminism is not about acting like men, or belittling our male counterparts. It is about being smart, respectful, kind, resilient, and striving to accomplish goals. It’s about demanding our voices be heard, and for society to address alarming inequities. It’s about finding the power in womanhood, and usurping those patriarchal standards. 

There have been many remarkable women who have contributed to women's history since the founding of the United States, such as Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, and many others. Over the years, women have surmounted numerous barriers and achieved great milestones in art, athletics, business, government, philanthropy, humanities, science, and education. Women have contributed a lot to society, and we have made great strides in reducing the gender equity gap. It may seem daunting how far we have to go on this journey, but we shouldn’t overlook how far we’ve come, ladies! 

Written by: Stefanny Leung Yu

Instagram: @stefflyp

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