Each March, Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women throughout history.
Women have played a vital role throughout the history of the world, even during eras and in countries where they have been marginalized and their freedoms limited.
There’s no shortage of milestone moments in women’s history, and the following are some everyone can appreciate and commemorate this March and beyond.
Marie Curie wins the Nobel Prize: In 1903, chemist and physicist Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work involving radiation. Curie became the first woman to win the distinguished prize, but she didn’t stop there, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. That made Curie a trailblazer of a different sort, as she became the first person to win or share two Nobel Prizes.
American women are granted the right to vote: The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution on August 18, 1920, guaranteed all American women the right to vote. The passage of the amendment, which was a byproduct of the hard work of women who had been fighting for suffrage for decades, enfranchised more than 25 million American women in the months ahead of the 1920 presidential election.
Though this was a momentous event for American women, the United States was not the first nation to grant voting rights to women. That distinction belongs to the colony of South Australia, which allowed women to vote in local elections in 1861.
Women serve in the armed forces during World War II: WWII has inspired countless books and Hollywood productions, but few have recognized or emphasized the role women played in that conflict.
That’s unfortunate and misleading, as the U.S. Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on May 15, 1942. Later known as the Women’s Army Corps, or WAC, this women’s branch of the U.S. Army was initially led by Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, who later became just the second woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.
Roughly 150,000 women served in the WAAC or WAC during World War II, with some stationed in Europe, North Africa and New Guinea.
The National Organization for Women is founded: An American feminist organization, NOW was founded on June 30, 1966 and has since left an indelible mark on American society. Since its inception, NOW, which has an estimated membership of roughly half a million, has fought against discrimination and for equal rights for women.
Iceland makes equal pay the law of the land: In 2018, Iceland became the first country in the world to mandate that men and women in the same job be paid the same amount. This marked a major step forward for women, who have historically been paid less than their male counterparts holding the same positions.
Women’s History Month is a great time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions women have made throughout world history.