“It's one of the great mysteries of the city where women go when they are out of work and hungry. There are not many women in the bread line. There are no flophouses for women as there are for men, where a bed can be had for a quarter or less. You don't see women lying on the floor at the mission in the free flops. They obviously don't sleep in the jungle or under newspapers in the park. There is no law I suppose against their being in these places but the fact is they rarely are.”
These words, written by Meridel Lesueur in her essay, “Women on the Breadlines”, ring just as true today as they did when they were published in 1932. So as we enter March and the celebrations of Women’s History Month, we pause to reflect on how the experience of women has changed, but how, too, it has stayed the same.
Women’s History Month itself started as an effort to prevent the erasure of women whose stories weren’t told in history classes. Before this month was recognized by a Presidential Proclamation, it started in 1978 the school districts of Sonoma County, California, when educators realized that women’s roles in history were overlooked.
In a larger context, Shirley Chisholm had a presidential run just six years earlier, becoming the first woman to run for a major party. Patricia Harris, just one year earlier, became the first Black woman appointed as a cabinet member. Women were making history, but there was still little to no emphasis on the political, cultural, and social history of women in the past.
The Sonoma County “Women’s History Week” was a success; within a few years, thousands of communities around the nation joined the celebration. In 1987, a grassroots effort by The National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the national celebration to the entire month of March. That year, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. Every year since, a special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year to honor the achievements of American Women.
The Gathering Place will be commemorating Women’s History Month in three ways:
- Every day, we will raise awareness of contemporary issues that have affected women in the past and continue to affect women in the present. We do this with the hope of creating a better future for everyone. Visit the “Resources & Blog” section of our website every day to see what we are discussing. We ask that you join us by sharing this information on social and inspiring conversation as you do so.
- We will continue to do our work. Over the course of the past year, we have helped over 7,000 individuals, including 2,000 children. We have served over 64,000 meals; distributed 50,000 pounds of food through our food pantries; assisted 200 members through our educational programs; and offered upwards of 4,000 counseling and medical care visits. We care for women at every stage of their life by providing meals, safety, family care, education, access to healthcare, and community.
- On International Women’s Day, March 8, our credit card vendor is waiving credit card fees. That means your support goes further! While we refer to those we serve as members, the generosity of our community ensures no fees are ever charged for our programs or services. Join us as we commemorate the past, present, and future of women by supporting the women we serve every day.
Learn more about Women’s History Month