Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is upon us which means it is Women's History Month. While women’s accomplishments are important every day, this month is dedicated to commemorating vital role of women in American history. Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week in 1982 after Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28. Over the next five years following this initial commemoration, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions that designated a week in March as Women’s History Week. 

Women's History Month

The National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress in 1987 to expand this to a full month which was passed in Pub. L. 100-9. Women’s History Week was successfully changed to Women’s History Month in 1987 because of these efforts but this did not guarantee that the month would be commemorated each year. Congress passed additional resolutions between 1988 – 1994 to honor Women’s History Month, and since then annual proclamations have been issued to continue the designation of March as a time to recognize and honor the contributions of women in American history across so many different fields.

The Center for Women’s Studies

This is also a time to honor the legacy of women at UNA. In 2000, Dr. Lynne Reiff (Professor, Department of History) and Dr. Anna Lott (retired Professor of English) proposed and started the minor in Women’s Studies which is still offered today. Dr. Rieff and Dr. Lott also started the Center for Women’s Studies (often referred to as the Women’s Center by students). It has served as an inclusive and empowering space for so many students over the years. The Center for Women’s Studies opened during the spring of 2004 and it started off as one room in Bennett Infirmary. They moved to their current location (663 N. Wood Ave.) during the summer of 2004. Dr. Reiff and Dr. Lott ran the Center with no budget and no staff for nearly five years before Emily Kelly was hired in 2009 as the coordinator. Emily was integral in expanding programming and services, and was always ready with a warm hello when stopping by the Center. Emily retired in 2019 after a decade of service to the Center and is still active in the community addressing women’s issues. Nicole Powell has since served as the coordinator and has continued to grow the programming.

The Center for Women’s Studies is known across campus for its many services. For example, they serve as a confidential reporting resource for Title IX which means that they are not mandatory reporters. If seeking confidential reporting resources, be sure to request to speak with a confidential reporting resource in this office since not all of the staff (such as student workers) fall within this category. The Center also started the Pride Pantry with free personal care items that are easily accessible to students and has been essential in collecting donations for the Food Pantry. They have a lactation room, a baby changing table, and a gender-neutral restroom on site. They might be most known for their free printing services which many students utilize.

Celebrate International Women at UNA

The Center for Women’s Studies has a full month of activities planned for Women’s History Month. March 8 is recognized as International Women's Day which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. There is an event at Rivers Patio in partnership with the Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion and Housing and Residence Life. This includes handing out buttons, tie-dying, and a poster exhibit set up on the ground floor of Rice Hall that that highlights the Women's Suffrage Movement in the U.S., global poverty and the wage gap, violence against women, equitable leadership, peace movements, and global sustainability.


The HerStory Gallery will be displayed at Collier Library the entire month of March. This is an annual exhibit that highlights the UNA community's feminist heroes. Students, faculty, and staff all contributed to this exhibit and each were asked to write a brief biography of their hero and a short explanation of why their feminist hero is meaningful to them. Each contributor is photographed holding a picture of their hero. You do not want to miss this impactful exhibit!


Additional Events

Other events for the month include the Start Smart Salary Negotiation workshop sponsored by AAUW on Tuesday, March 16 from 5:30 pm-7:00 pm; the second installment of the Spring Women of Action Series featuring Chelsea Kauchick and co-sponsored by the Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion and Community Service and Outreach; and a recognition of Equal Pay Day on Wednesday, March 31, 12:30-2:30 with a table in the GUC. As you can see, there are a lot of events and activities happening across campus for Women’s History Month. But most importantly, the Center for Women’s Studies does this vitally important work year-round and has served as a resource for hundreds of students over the years. We applaud their efforts and thank them for the countless hours they have dedicated to this University and to our students. You can learn more about their mission and events here.