Throughout history, women had to fight for equal rights and opportunities as men. Thanks to these courageous females, modern women can have the same education, job opportunities, and rights as men. Women’s History Month is a celebration of our country’s progress for gender equality, many along with bringing awareness to the discrimination they still face today.

It is a month full of recognition, respect, and gratitude for those (including men) who break the mold and stand up for others. For example, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which made it easier for women to challenge pay discrimination. Women’s History Month actually started off as Women’s History Week in California as an event celebrating International Women’s Day (March 8th). In 1987, March was officially designated Women’s History Month. Since then, every year there is a theme to celebrate this month-long event. This year it is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”. The popularity women’s history celebrations is on the rise as more people are becoming aware of how much women had to overcome to get where we are today.

The honorees for the National Women’s History Project’s includes a number of women from the past and present. One of the honorees is Agatha Tiegel Hanson who lived from 1873-1959. Her ability to be a teacher, poet, and advocate for women and the deaf community despite the fact that she was deaf and blind in one eye is beyond impressive. During that time most deaf people didn’t have access to education and on top of that she was a deaf woman which made it even more difficult to get schooling. However, she became one of the first women admitted to Gallaudet University, which is dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing students. Another extraordinary honoree is Jaida Im who gave up her 20-year career as a health care professional to help adult female survivors of human trafficking. She found the Freedom House, the first residential shelter to help these victims by providing counseling and resources to get back into the world.

Despite these success stories, there are numerous issues across all aspects of life that still need to be addressed regarding women’s rights. According to Center for American Progress, only 21% of legislature representation worldwide are women. Economically speaking, women contribute to more than half of the social and economic development of societies but are paid less. Looking back in history, women have worked hard to gain rights but along with these rights came more responsibilities. They are still expected to do most of the childrearing along with having a full time job. Women still have a long way to go to shake off the societal views that chain us down.

During Women’s History Month we all can learn about the hardships and obstacles women had to overcome just to get to where we are today. It is also a great opportunity to find out what struggles women face today and how we can be part of the change.