Each March, Americans across the country celebrate National Women’s History Month. During this time, we have the chance to honor all of the contributions that women have made to American society throughout our nation’s history. From the sciences to the arts and politics, American women have broken down barriers built up by prejudice. In overcoming these obstacles, they have worked to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities, women and men alike.

From the very founding of our nation, women have been involved in this struggle to gain equality with men. In 1920, women scored a major victory in gaining the right to vote through the efforts of suffragettes, such as Susan B. Anthony. Since then, more and more doors have been opened to women, and the list of inspirational success stories is truly endless. For instance, in 1938, Pearl S. Buck became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and, in 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter space. Across disciplines and career paths, women continue to make their mark on American society.

In the U.S. political field, women are still underrepresented in state and national offices, but this trend is slowly, but surely, changing. In 1960, women held only 20 of the 535 seats in Congress; today, 90 of those seats are now held by women. Across the country, women account for 24 percent of all state legislatures. Here in Ohio, women hold seven seats in the Senate and 23 seats in the House. As the first female state representative elected from Knox County, I feel very blessed to be a part of, not only the legislative process, but the movement towards equal representation of women in public offices.

As women continue to contribute to our society, opportunities for educational advancement are crucial. In this spirit, the 2012 theme of National Women’s History Month is “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.” The United States has come a long way since Oberlin became the first college to admit women in 1837. The implementation of Title IX in 1977 cemented women’s equal educational opportunities in America. Title IX prohibits federally funded institutions from any practice of gender discrimination, giving women a legal pathway to greater participation in all areas of education. Today, women outnumber men in American colleges and universities, a true indicator of the gains we have made toward gender equality in the U.S.

Above all, National Women’s History Month is a testament to the American dream. We, as Americans, have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of our gender. Please join me this month in honoring all of the extraordinary women who continue to remind us of this important message.


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