With Women's History Month upon us, many organizations and entities including are paying attention and plan to honor and pay tribute to the many generations of women whose commitment to communities, children, the environment and numerous other parts of the world that have proved most valuable to the overall society in which we live.
Some of these organizations include the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The origin of Women's History Month began as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress authorized and requested that the President of the United States proclaim the week starting March 7, 1982 as "Women's History Week." In 1987, Congress designated the month of March as "Women's History Month."
What is interesting is that there is a very well known "girl" focused nonprofit organization that was started in the month of March - The Girl Scouts of the USA.
Girl Scouts of the USA
On Monday, Mar. 12, 2012 the Girl Scouts will celebrate their 100-year anniversary. The organization most of us know was founded by Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low on this date in Mar. 12, 1912 in Savannah, Ga., when she held the first local Girl Scout meeting by bringing together 18 girls. Juliette believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and spiritually; her goal was to bring girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air...they learned to hike, play sports, went on camping trips learning how to tell time by the stars and studied first aid.
The Girl Scouts also has the largest financial literacy program for girls. Yes, although most of us can recall that it is during this time of year when young girls knock on our doors asking us to if we want to purchase Girl Scout Cookies, it is very important to know that the selling of the cookies does more than just satisfy our annual craving for the taste of our favorite cookies. What most people don't know is that the Girl Scout Cookie Program supports America's leading business and economic literacy program for girls. So by purchasing your favorite box or two of Thin Mints, Do-Si-Do or Shortbread cookies, you are helping young girls learn skills that will benefit them a life time. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of women leaders in this country were at one time a Girl Scout.
If you would like to make a difference in your corner of the world, spread encouragement wherever you go. Consider becoming a Girl Scout volunteer. Enter your zip code to connect with your local Girl Scout Council. Visit www.girlscouts.org/today/ to learn more. Maybe one of these young women will one day be honored for her historic achievements!
Women's Education - Women's Empowerment
This year's theme for Women's History Month is Women's Education -- Women's Empowerment. Education is a basic right fought for which many women throughout history have taken up the battle cry! And even though women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, the reversal of the gender gap is a very recent phenomenon. The fight to be educated or even able to learn was a noble struggle waged by many persistent and tenacious women through the years and across cultures in the USA.
Check out the National Women's History Project which was founded in 1980. It is a nonprofit organization that celebrates and shares women's historic accomplishments.
Also consider learning more about the Ms. Foundation for Women. Founded in 1973 by four women including Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Patricia Carbine and Letty Cottin Pogrebi, it is the oldest women's focused foundation in the country. According to the website, its focus is to build women's collective power across race and class to tackle the root causes of injustice and ignite progressive change for all. These four women have definitely made history with their ideas and actions.
I am often asked what someone can do to affect change. Here are five recommendations and tips on how you can honor Women's History Month and Make A Difference (M.A.D.):
Make a donation to the Girl Scouts in your community beyond simply purchasing your annual supply of Girl Scout cookies. Find your local council by entering your zip code here.
Check out the National Women's History Project to find resources and speakers you could utilize in your community.
Read the book, "Women of Courage" by Katherine Martin to learn about women who have made a difference recently or read the book "Uppity Women of Medieval Times" by Vicki Leon to learn about women who made a difference more than 2000 years ago!
Commit to helping those nonprofit organizations in your community who make a difference to women and girls. This could include your local YWCA the local women's foundation or community foundation's funds dedicated to women's and girls' issue. You could become a volunteer or a donor.
Celebrate Women's History Month by learning about those women in your community who have made a difference; this can be accomplished for most of us by a simple online search or by visiting our local history museum or historical society.
Bonus Tip: Make a decision to study one of your favorite women in history. Who are you curious about? I chose Abagail Adams, Joan of Arc and Mary Queen of Scots. These three women made a difference during their lifetimes and I have studied them throughout the past few years. Or simply talk to the women in your family and ask them to tell you their stories.
In writing this blog I recalled being told many years ago that women's history and commitment to society, communities and the world is often overlooked. That even the word history if focused on men because it has the word "his" in it. While I am not advocating we change the word or use the "her-story", I am recommending that this month we spend some time thinking about women and their numerous contributions to the world. Take time to learn and you will be making a difference just like the women in history who were Making A Difference (M.A.D.).
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