Friday started a monthlong observance of celebrating and studying the contributions women have made on American history.
It is officially being observed jointly by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as numerous other organizations, groups and individuals.
According to womenshistorymonth.gov, the national observance began in 1981 when Congress requested the president proclaim the a week recognizing women’s contribution to America. It continued to pass resolutions for the next five years designating a week as Women’s History Week. It became a monthlong observance in 1987.
The role of women in helping shape our country is often understated, despite the age-old joke and feminist statement from the 1960s “behind every good man is a great woman.” Yet, there is some truth to it.
If you think back to our nation’s great presidents, you can almost certainly remember the names of their wives. That can’t be by accident. They must have had some impact on the country and its culture.
Women also played a key role in ending slavery in our country. Soujourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women’s right campaigner, is known for giving a speech in 1851 that stated how women were equal to men. And Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped the anti-slavery campaign become popular and was cited by President Abraham Lincoln as a factor behind the Civil War.
I hope, in my own small way, that I have helped contribute to the list of accomplishments made by women in our nation. I chose to enter a profession that was once dominated primarily by men and have made it my passion to ensure that the news presented by the newspaper is as factual and unbiased as possible. I also strive to make sure the pages reflect what is happening in the community.
As a volunteer, I have gravitated toward leadership positions and have received numerous awards and accolades for my service and actions. I have been a committee chairman, vice presidents and president.
I don’t do this because I am a feminist or because I think women are any better at accomplishing a specific task than a man, or because I am seeking extra recognition. I just see a job that needs to be done and do it. It’s who I am and what I do. And I just happen to be a woman.
Perhaps that is the same type of thinking that prompted women like Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt or Rosa Parks to take action and change the world around them.
It would be nice if we didn’t need someone — or Congress — to tell us to notice the work of women. It would be even nicer if their accomplishments were noticed just because of their significance and not because they were done by women.
But for now, as the month marches on, we should all take a moment to reflect on the contributions women make to the world, the nation and their communities, no matter how big or small their actions.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.