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March: National Women's History Month 2011

"Our History is Our Strength."

Women's History Month
Women's History Month 2011: Our History is Our Strength

This year, the Department of Defense (DoD) theme for National Women's History Month (WHM) is "Our History is Our Strength." This year's theme pays tribute to the millions of women who have helped create a better world for the times in which they lived, as well as, for future generations. Women overcoming the many challenges they faced serve as a source of strength for all of us. Although women's history is intertwined with that of men, women's unique contributions to the history of our nation merit our utmost praise and attention.

Women's History Month traces its origins to International Women's Day, which took place for the first time on March 8, 1911. President Jimmy Carter issued the Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded this event into a month-long celebration as it is known today.

The history of women is in reality the most defining factor of who we are as a people. This year, the National Women's Project instead of recognizing National Honorees, they are encouraging communities and institutions to honor women from our communities, states, and organizations "whose lives and work have served to inspire the strength that comes from knowing the stories of these determined women."

You can pay tribute to the historical achievements of women who have made a difference in our country's history by visiting the bounty of historical sites and museums in Washington, DC dedicated to preserving and honoring the contributions of women as follows:

Sites to visit:

  • Clara Barton National Historic Site
    The home of Clara Barton served as the headquarters and warehouse for the American Red Cross where she coordinated relief efforts for victims of natural disasters and war from 1897-1904. Clara Barton National Historic Site is located in Glen Echo, Maryland adjacent to Glen Echo Park, a National Park for the arts.
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
    The National Museum of Women in the Arts is located in the heart of Washington, DC and is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to celebrating the artistic achievements of women. The museum's permanent collection features more than 3,000 works of art by women from the 16th century to the present.
  • Sewall-Belmont House and Museum
    This women's history museum displays fine art and artifacts from the women's suffrage and equal rights movements. See furniture belonging to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and National Women's Party Party founder, Alice Paul. Sewall-Belmont House and Museum is a national historic landmark and has been the historic headquarters of the National Woman's Party since 1929. The museum hosts regular children's programs including arts & crafts and storytelling.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Museum
    The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1890 as a women's organization dedicated to preserving American history and promoting patriotism. Its national headquarters, located in the heart of Washington, DC, houses a museum, a library and a concert hall. The DAR museum features 32 Period Rooms that depict regional American furnishings from the 17th to the early 20th century.
  • The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
    The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House served as headquarters for the National Council of Negro Women from 1943 to 1966. This site commemorates the life of Mary McLeod Bethune, an African American woman who grew up in poverty in South Carolina, yet rose to become an influential educator, presidential advisor, and political activist.

Lastly, soon to come to Washington, DC will be the National Women's History Museum. A non-profit educational institution has been established with the intent to build the first ever women's national museum in Washington, DC. They are currently working on securing a site.

From the White House

During Women's History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation's history. Today, women have reached heights their mothers and grandmothers might only have imagined. Women now comprise nearly half of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and universities. They scale the skies as astronauts, expand our economy as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and serve our country at the highest levels of government and our Armed Forces. In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.

This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. International Women's Day is a chance to pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world and is rooted in women's centuries-old struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men. This day reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.

My Administration has elevated the rights of women and girls abroad as a critical aspect of our foreign and national security policy. Empowering women across the globe is not simply the right thing to do, it is also smart foreign policy. This knowledge is reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, which recognizes that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices, and equal opportunities. Today, we are integrating a focus on women and girls in all our diplomatic efforts, and incorporating gender considerations in every aspect of our development assistance. We are working to build the participation of women into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution, and we are continuing to lead in combating the scourge of conflict related sexual violence, both bilaterally and at the United Nations.

In America, we must lead by example in protecting women's rights and supporting their empowerment. Despite our progress, too many women continue to be paid less than male workers, and women are significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. By tapping into the potential and talents of all our citizens, we can utilize an enormous source of economic growth and prosperity. The White House Council on Women and Girls has continued to remove obstacles to achievement by addressing the rate of violence against women, supporting female entrepreneurs, and prioritizing the economic security of women. American families depend largely on the financial stability of women, and my Administration continues to prioritize policies that promote workplace flexibility, access to affordable, quality health care and child care, support for family caregivers, and the enforcement of equal pay laws. I have also called on every agency in the Federal Government to be part of the solution to ending violence against women, and they have responded with unprecedented cooperation to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence and enable survivors to break the cycle of abuse.

As we reflect on the triumphs of the past, we must also look to the limitless potential that lies ahead. To win the future, we must equip the young women of today with the knowledge, skills, and equal access to reach for the promise of tomorrow. My Administration is making unprecedented investments in education and is working to expand opportunities for women and girls in the STEM fields critical for growth in the 21st century economy.

As we prepare to write the next chapter of women's history, let us resolve to build on the progress won by the trailblazers of the past. We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements, and no remaining ceilings to shatter.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women's History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women. I also invite all Americans to visit to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Barack Obama