2007 marks the 159th anniversary of the women's rights movement, and many young people today would find it hard to believe there was a time when women were not allowed to vote, had no property rights, were not allowed to enter many professions and were unwelcome at colleges and universities.
Women have taken great strides since 1848, but these changes have not come without great effort. They are the product of generations of meetings, petitions, lobbying, public speaking and nonviolent resistance. They are the product of seven generations of women. March is the month we celebrate the accomplishments and challenges of women in the United States. A number of Web sites have built exhibits in their honor, and LibrarySpot has pulled together some of the best.
Women Who Brought Change
The National Women's History Project illustrates how Women's History Month came into being, offers a calendar of events, a women's history quiz and links to dozens of relevant resources. The site also offers ideas for teachers, librarians, parents and community organizations.
For those of you writing research papers or working on lesson plans, there are a number of research sites that may prove helpful. Middle Tennessee State University has compiled American Women's History: A Research Guide, which offers associations, bibliographies, biographical sources, electronic discussion lists, encyclopedias/chronologies, historic landmark guides, quotation dictionaries and statistical sources. The site also has a great guide for finding state-specific resources on women's history. Diotima is a University of Kentucky site that offers resources for the study of women and gender in the ancient world. For biographical information, Distinguished Women of Past and Present presents the lives of women writers, educators, scientists, heads of state, politicians, civil rights crusaders, artists, entertainers and more.
Women Bringing Change
For a taste of the world that women live in today, there's no better place to lurk than the host of women-centric networks on the Web. Sites like WWWomen, iVillage and Femina have evolved to unite women and feed their interests on the Internet. Many offer bulletin boards and chat, where coffee-table banter and meaningful debates take place over topics like careers, money, relationships, fitness and parenting.
Women are making headway from the basketball court to the boardroom. A library science student at the University of Texas at Austin has built the WWW Women's Sports Page, a site teeming with information about woman in sports from archery to wrestling. For the academically fit, A Celebration of Women Writers highlights women authors around the world. The incredibly comprehensive resource allows you to search by author name, century or country. Women are also climbing the corporate ladder. The National Association for Female Executives is a voice for women in corporate America. The organization supports 150,000 members through education, networking, and public advocacy.
For biographical information on women making changes today, visit the Women's International Center. Each year, the center awards Living Legacy awards to "acknowledge, honor and encourage" women. Recipients have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Janet Reno and Billie Jean King.
A number of organizations lead the way for change. Feminists are perhaps the strongest voice. Two great gateways to feminist resources on the Web are The Feminist Majority Foundation and Feminist.com. The National Organization for Women is a national organization that lobbies on issues like abortion and reproductive rights, affirmative action, economic equity, sexual harassment, global feminism, lesbian rights and violence against women. Each year, the United Nations reports on the Status of Women and sets the international agenda for the fight against discrimination.
Women Who Will Bring Change
If the last 159 years opened the door to polls, universities and corporate America, what will the next 159 years bring? How can we foster an environment of positive change for our daughters, granddaugters and great granddaughters?
A joint effort of Mount Holyoke College, the Women's College Coalition and the Ad Council is fighting to promote the achivement of girls. The campaign is entitled "Expect the Best from a Girl: That's What You'll Get." The site points out that developmentally, girls take the lead. They talk earlier, read earlier and count earlier. In preschool, they score higher on IQ tests than their male peers. Yet in public schools, far more gifted boys than gifted girls are identified by fifth grade. The site is designed to arm parents and teachers with ideas that promote the fair treatment of girls at home and in the classroom.
To encourage achievement, girls need positive role models. The media have a powerful hold over us from birth, and one organization is fighting to change the way they portray women.About-Face is a grassroots effort dedicated to combating negative and distorted images of women and promoting alternatives through education, action and humor. The group hopes to reduce the number of stick-thin sex symbols in advertising and gain more powerful, positive role models for the generation ahead.
One of the most powerful role models is you. What better way to empower your daughter, niece or granddaughter, than to show her your accomplishments? The fourth Thursday in April is Take Our Daughters to Work Day. The day was created by the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1993 to focus attention on the needs of girls, heighten aspirations and build the workforce of tomorrow.
Know of other individuals or organizations changing the world for the women of tomorrow? Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll add them to the collection.