Congress passed into law March as National Women’s History Month in 1987. However, the roots of the observance month date back as far as 1843.
In Lowell, Massachusetts, a group of female textile workers, also referred to as the Lowell Mill Girls, refused to accept the substandard conditions in which they were forced to work. They banded together to form the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. Led by Sara Bagely, they raised the issues of unsafe and hazardous work environments to the Massachusetts legislation. Although the LFLRA did not receive the justice they sought at that time, their courage and determination sparked an era of women’s equality.
Throughout the years of American history, women have left monumental footprints in the pursuit of fair treatment in labor and business. Organizations such as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, established in 1900, fought for employment of women as well as equal pay and suitable work conditions. These groups did more than just speak on behalf of women in the workplace; they rallied for equality of all people that suffered labor injustices.
Organizations, like the International Working People’s Association, founded by Lucy Parson in 1883, marches, and hunger demonstrations brought light to the unfair treatment of children, immigrants and the impoverished. The resounding message was received and ultimately led to the creation of the Department of Labor on March 4, 1913.
Many pivotal events have taken place, which continue to shine light on unfair treatment and cultivate the equality for women in labor and business. This month we celebrate the efforts, victories and determination of “Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”