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Give & Take: On Women’s History Month: How It Began & Ways to Honor It

Hallie Erlich  Follow

Every year, Women’s History Month provides us with an opportunity throughout March to commemorate and encourage the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history, along with the many achievements women have made across a variety of fields.


A bit on how Women’s History Month began: As this piece from the National Women’s History Alliance explains, one of the big moments behind the creation of Women’s History Month can be traced back to California in the late 1970s. In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women started a “Women’s History Week” celebration to address the unfortunate reality that women’s history was a virtually non-present topic in K-12 curriculum. This week-long celebration was met with enthusiasm, with dozens of schools offering special programming. Fortunately, California was far from the only U.S. state where people were clamoring for increased education about women’s history in our schools and in our everyday discourse.


Fast forward to 1980, President Carter issued the first Presidential proclamation announcing the week of March 8, 1980 as “National Women’s History Week.” By 1986, 14 states had declared March as Women’s History Month. That momentum ultimately propelled Congress to permanently declare the entire month of March as National Women’s History Month in 1987. Hooray!


Now, each year, the National Women's History Alliance designates a theme for Women's History Month. For 2023, the theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” which focuses on recognizing women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling such as print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, and more. As the Alliance mentions, women’s stories help to expand our understanding and strengthen our connections with each other.


At Prosek, we strive to continually honor the ways women have contributed to or made an impact on various communities and our society at large. As a firm that was founded by a woman and is run by many talented female leaders, we recognize just how important it is to appreciate and recognize the women who help make the world go round, and will continue to amplify their unique voices and the stories they want to tell.


In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of women-focused nonprofit organizations to consider supporting or learning more about throughout March and year-round:


Black Girls Code introduces girls, ages 6-17, to computer programming, electrical engineering, mobile app development, robotics and other STEM fields as part of their mission to increase the number of women of color in the digital space. Ultimately, they strive to create pathways for young girls of color to embrace the current tech marketplace, become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own future through exposure to computer science and technology.

Girl Rising uses the power of storytelling to change the way the world values girls and their education. The organization works with 40+ local partners in eight countries delivering programming that helps young people build voice, agency and growth mindsets. They work with teachers to build more gender-inclusive and aspirational learning environments; and they work parents, caregivers, and community members to help break down barriers to girls’ education.

MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women's organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights. They provide resources and training to enable their sister organizations to meet these goals by addressing immediate needs in their communities and by developing long-term solutions to the crises they face including war, natural disasters, and more.

The New York Women’s Foundation is on a mission to create an equitable and just future for women and families by uniting a cross-cultural alliance that ignites action and invests in bold, community-led solutions across the city. Their philanthropic strategy is based on the reality that when women and gender-expansive people thrive, their families and communities also thrive. The Foundation’s work is rooted in gender, racial, and economic justice, and it is among the largest women-led grantmaking organizations in the world.

Women’s Education Project (WEP) is dedicated to alleviating poverty by helping young women from underserved backgrounds succeed in higher education and careers—and, in turn, make lasting change in their families. WEP does this through developing support centers that provide resources (scholarships, academic courses, libraries, and computer labs) for students to help them graduate from high school and college and begin their careers.

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