National Women’s History Month: 5 Key Facts

National Women’s History Month is globally recognized to highlight and remember women throughout history who have been previously overlooked. It has also transformed to not only honor the unsung heroes in history, but to celebrate the achievements of women and girls today who make positive and influential contributions to society.

Here are five key facts from Women’s history that you need to know:


1. It all started on March 8, 1908 - now known as International Women’s Day.

Over 1500 female workers in New York City factories took to the streets in protest of their poor working conditions. While the march was attacked and dispersed by police, it led to the creation of the first women’s labor union—showing that solidarity and opposition to the status quo can succeed and ignite change.


In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California held a weeklong celebration centered around Women’s History Day in 1978 that sparked a series of events, including a fifteen-day conference about women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. Nine years later, in 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month at the request of the National Women’s History Project.


Women have been uniting here in New York City ever since. Take The Lower Eastside Girls Club, for instance. In 1995, a group of women in the Lower Eastside realized there were three boys-only clubs in their neighborhood and not a single girls’ club. In female solidarity, they created The Lower Eastside Girls Club, a safe haven for girls to learn art, sciences, leadership and entrepreneurship free of charge to their families.


2. All American women were granted the right to vote nationwide in 1965.

It was as recent as 1872 that women were arrested for simply attempting to vote. Gradually, women gained the legal right in various states and according to certain criteria. Even with the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in 1920, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that racial discrimination in voting was finally prohibited, truly granting all American women the right to vote.


3. The first woman received a bachelor’s degree in 1840.

For years college was prohibited for women, but in 1840 Catherine Brewer became the first to receive her degree. It wasn’t until 1982 that more women than men received bachelor’s degrees in a single year.


Today, organizations like Girls Write Now are still trying to combat this entrenched inequality. They are the first organization in the country to offer a writing and mentoring program just for girls by partnering with professional writers to share their practical skills and mentor them in confidence and leadership. Girls Write Now has a phenomenal 100% success rate, with all of their students reaching college with confidence and a portfolio of writing.


4. The first female presidential candidate ran in 1872.

Although it is widely recognized that Geraldine A. Ferraro was the first woman to run on a major party ticket in 1984, that recognition really belongs to Victoria Woodhull who ran for president in 1872, before women were allowed to vote. Known as quite an eccentric who didn’t care for rules, she was one year too young to take office had she won. In fact, she didn’t receive a single  electoral vote and it’s unknown how many popular votes she secured. 


5. Around 5 million people across the globe took part in the 2017 Women’s March to protest for women’s rights.

The majority of marches took place across the USA, Canada and Europe with over 400,000 protesters in Manhattan alone, but marches were also held in South America, Africa and Asia. And the events weren’t just restricted to women; hundreds of thousands of men took part as a way of demonstrating support for their mothers, sisters, spouses and friends. Celebrating Women’s History Month in 2017 is still as important as ever. As we learned from the factory workers in 1857, peaceful protests can result in increased visibility and positive change.  


This Women’s History Month, NYXT celebrates both The Lower Eastside Girls Club and Girls Write Now for their groundbreaking work in providing a safe space for girls to learn. Keep an eye on our schedule for inspiring shorts about the difference both these organizations make in New York City. 




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