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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2024

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By Michelle Houchins, Iridium Diversity & Inclusion Council member and Engineer

Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. These celebrations are an opportunity to not only honor the extraordinary achievements of women, but to recognize the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality.

International Women’s Day traces its roots back to 1908 in New York City, where female factory workers united together to protest poor working conditions. The following year, the National Socialist Party of America established the first National Women’s Day to honor these courageous factory workers. It wasn’t until 1917, when women were granted the right to vote by the Provisional Government of Russia, that International Women’s Day became a national holiday celebrated on March 8. Over the years as the international women’s movement grew, more countries began celebrating International Women’s Day. In 1977, the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day as a holiday.

The story of Women’s History Month begins in the city of Santa Rosa, California. In 1978, the women of Santa Rosa organized the very first Women’s History Week. Discontented with the lack of women’s history in K-12 curriculum, these women designated the week of March 8 to highlight the contributions of women in American history. The week was full of special activities in schools, a nationwide “Real Woman” essay contest, and even a celebratory parade held in downtown Santa Rosa, California. The following year, other communities followed suit and put on their own Women’s History Week festivities. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. When Congress passed Public Law 100-9 in 1987, March finally became designated as Women’s History Month.

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