Women have struggled for centuries to get the same rights and opportunities as men, and the same recognition and respect for their achievements and contributions to society. Here in America, the early stages of the women’s rights movement were dominated by efforts to gain equal pay and the right to vote (suffrage).
The voting issue was resolved by a Constitutional amendment in 1920 and the pay gap has been narrowed considerably in the modern era. But even though women have made great strides in these and numerous other areas, many gender-based inequalities remain. The struggle continues.
The formal celebration of women's history, a significant component of the women's movement, has spread throughout the world. Here in the United States, it has become much more organized during the past three decades. In 1981 a Joint Resolution of Congress established a Women's History Week, and in 2001 a second Joint Resolution designated Women's History Month as an annual event to be nationally celebrated each March.
Today, events and activities scheduled during Women's History Month are an important vehicle for celebrating women's progress and honoring women who have made vital contributions to society.
Not surprisingly, the National Park Service celebrates Women's History Month in many national parks, and not just ones that were established to honor women. Here is a sampling of the women's history exhibits, programs, and special events scheduled in the National Park System during March:
* On March 10, a film entitled The Forgotten Grave: Women Soldiers of the American Civil War was to be shown in the visitor center at Tennessee's Fort Donelson National Battlefield. The film highlights the many roles that women played during the war, including serving as nurses, spies, cooks, and even soldiers.
* At San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the fifth annual Suffragette March Reenactment, a vintage 1901 living history event, is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, at noon and 3:00 p.m.
* In partnership with Women's Rights National Historical Park, Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, will screen the film Dreams of Equality at 1:00 p.m. on March 12 and 19. This 27-minute documentary chronicles the early years of the women's rights movement and includes contemporary discussions of gender roles.
* In Washington, D.C., Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site and Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, two administrative components of National Capital Parks-East, will recognize Women's History Month through a series of events tailored to the theme Our History is Our Strength.
A film screening and three book signings have been scheduled. The film The Crowning Experience, a 1960 musical based on the life of black education leader Mary McLeod Bethune, will be shown on March 12 and 26. The first book signing (March 17) will feature Cheryl A. Smith, who will discuss and sign Market Women Black Women Entrepreneurs: Past, Present, and Future, her book about empowering women to embrace business ownership as a career field. The second (March 24) will feature Carla L. Peterson, who will discuss and sign her book Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth Century New York City.
The final event (March 31) will feature Tracye Lynn McQuirter, who will discuss and sign By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat.
* At noon on March 15, NPS cultural interpreter Julia Parker will present One Indian Woman's Story in the Yosemite Valley Auditorium at Yosemite National Park.
* At noon on March 28, author Fernando Peñalosa will appear at the same venue to present Making and Documenting Yosemite Women's History: Ranger-naturalist Enid Michael and Historian Shirley Sargent.