March is Women’s History Month, as declared by Congress since 1987 and by Presidential Proclamation since 1995. In honoring Women’s History Month, Secretary of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has issued a Statement focusing on promoting women’s health and education.
“American women have changed the landscape of scientific health research, medicine, and public health, and this year’s theme for Women’s History Month, “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment,” gives us the opportunity to reflect specifically on the contributions of a few trailblazers within our Department who during their lives made the education and empowerment of women a priority,” Secretary Sebelius said.
After recognizing and honoring the important advancements in women’s education, empowerment, and health contributed by three former leaders within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) — Dr. Mary Starke Harper, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, and Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein — the HHS Secretary quoted Dr. Dorothy I. Height, who was a leader in the civil rights and women’s movements:
Secretary Sebelius then proclaims:
“Today, we rededicate ourselves to the work of making sure that every woman has the opportunity to achieve the highest level of health. We are inspired by the great pioneers of our past, and we challenge Americans everywhere to consider how we each can make our own unique contribution to ensure justice in health care and to improve the lives of women and girls.”
Read Secretary Sebelius’ Statement on Women’s History Month in its entirety on the HHS website »
HHS.gov is also featuring a page on Promoting Women’s Health, which includes a video of Secretary Sebelius visiting Baltimore, MD, to talk to women who are the health care decision-makers for their families. The image above is from Secretary Sebelius’ visit to Baltimore.
UPDATE: On March 21, 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) posted a web page on Women’s Health, in connection with Women’s History Month. The page, provides substantial information on topics including:
- Affordable Care Act Provisions that Impact Women
- 2012 Women’s Health Calendars
- Recent Funding of Programs that promote Women’s Health
- Recent CDC Releases related to Women’s Health
- Gestational Diabetes
- Women and Eye Health
- Data Briefs; and
- Additional Information
Women’s History Month – Information and Events
According to WomensHistoryMonth.gov, a website co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”
Thereafter, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week,” and in 1987 in response to a petition by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed a law which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” From 1988 to 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.
“Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month,” WomensHistoryMonth.gov explains.
See WomensHistoryMonth.gov for more information about Women’s History Month, events being held in honor of Women’s History Month 2012, and links to a large quantity of documents, collections, videos, and other information provided by the co-sponsoring agencies and institutions, about women’s history, achievements, and important women in history and at present.
Additional information is provided on the website of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP), the not-for-profit organization that spearheaded the establishment of March as Women’s History Month by Congress in 1987.
The rationale for focusing on women’s history, is summarized in a quote from Myra Pollack Sadker found on the NWHP website: “Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.” “History helps us learn who we are, but when we don’t know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished,” the NWHP explains.
The NWHP therefore states that it is leading “the drive to write women back into history.”
“Recognizing the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women,” says the NWHP.
“With an emphasis on positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds, the NWHP has developed a nationwide constituency of teachers, students, parents, public employees, businesses, organizations, and individuals who understand the critical link between knowing about historical women and making a positive difference in today’s world.”
The White House Proclamation for Women’s History Month
President Obama’s Proclamation on Women’s History Month for 2012 has been posted on WhiteHouse.gov by Valerie Jarrett, Head of the President’s Council on Women and Girls.
The Presidential Proclamation states in part:
. . .
While we have made great strides toward equality, we cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society. With the leadership of the White House Council on Women and Girls, my Administration is advancing gender equality by promoting workplace flexibility, striving to bring more women into math and science professions, and fighting for equal pay for equal work. We are combating violence against women by revising an antiquated definition of rape and harnessing the latest technology to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault. From securing women’s health and safety to leveling the playing field and ensuring women have full and fair access to opportunity in the 21st century, we are making deep and lasting investments in the future of all Americans.
“Because the peace and security of nations around the globe depend upon the education and advancement of women and girls, my Administration has placed their perspectives and needs at the heart of our foreign policy. Last December, I released the first United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to help ensure women play an equal role in peace-building worldwide….”
. . .
“During Women’s History Month, we recall that the pioneering legacy of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers is revealed not only in our museums and history books, but also in the fierce determination and limitless potential of our daughters and granddaughters. As we make headway on the crucial issues of our time, let the courageous vision championed by women of past generations inspire us to defend the dreams and opportunities of those to come.”
. . .
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2012, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women…”
Comprehensive 50-Year Progress Report on the Status of Women
In commemoration of Women’s History Month in 2011, the White House, along with the Department of Commerce (Economics and Statistics Administration), Office of Management and Budget, and the White House Council on Women and Girls, released what was called “the first comprehensive federal report on the status of women’ since 1963.”
As stated in the Fact Sheet, the Report, “Women in America, provides a statistical portrait showing how women’s lives are changing in five critical areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence. By bringing together data from across the Federal government, the report is one of the most comprehensive sources for information on women’s lives today and greatly enhances our understanding both of how far American women have come and of the areas where there is still work to be done.”
A full copy of the 97-page Report, Women in America, is provided by the White House in PDF format.
In connection with the Report, the White House Office of Women and Girls provides a website that compiles in one place some of the vast Federal statistical data concerning women.
For more information on Women’s History Month, see WomensHistoryMonth.gov.
Several publications on women and womens’ accomplishments throughout history are also available for purchase from the U.S. Government Bookstore, part of the Government Printing Office.
For more information on women’s health, see WomensHealth.gov, a site maintained by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
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