Women’s History Month 2021

Every year, March is designated as Women’s History Month by presidential proclamation, and the month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history.  Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California.  The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978.  The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day, first celebrated in 1911.

The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.  In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition.  In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

The Mission is proud to have marked Women’s History Month through the following public outreach:

In its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) award ceremony honors women who have shown tremendous leadership and courage, often at great personal risk.  Since 2007, the Department has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries. The women are nominated by U.S. diplomatic missions overseas and finalists are selected by the Secretary of State.  Missed the ceremony?

Watch it here: https://bit.ly/2QaryGw.

The Public Affairs Section invited Dr. Mamta Patel Nagaraja to give a presentation on the Women@NASA program, importance of more women and girls in STEM fields, and trends in Aerospace Engineering.  In Dr. Nagaraja’s presentation, called “Shattering the Glass Ceiling,” she took the audience of 310 students, teachers, and researchers on a journey of one young girl’s dream – from the moment her Indian parents emigrated from their home country to the moment she found success in a career exploring the universe.  The talk also highlighted the stories of many women leaders – and simultaneously mothers, sisters, and daughters – as they contributed to the space program and shattered the glass ceiling.  The event, which was cosponsored with the American Corners (AC) network, also allowed the Embassy to celebrate the AC’s network’s 10th anniversary in 2021.

Watch the session here: https://bit.ly/2Q18Y3L.

On March 19, to advance the Department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals, Chargé d’Affaires Kristin Kane delivered opening remarks, alongside the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor, during the fourth webinar in the Fulbright Commission’s Diversity Webinar Series, called Gender Equality in Science and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  This webinar promoted a dialogue between different Portuguese and U.S. interlocutors and reflected on gender inequalities – both in the management and direction of the HEIs, as well as in the development of academic careers and curricula – two areas that remain male-dominated.  This series was created to underscore the theme of the 60th anniversary celebration of the Commission: Diversity, Inclusion and Sustainability.

Watch the session here: https://bit.ly/3t1jgzw.

On International Women’s Day, we chose to challenge inequity.  The American and Portuguese staff at the U.S. Embassy in Portugal participated in the #ChooseToChallenge movement by sending in their own photos showing support.  This was an action that was highlighted on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which we suggest you follow to keep up with how you too can get involved in making the world a more inclusive and equitable place.  Find out more about the campaign here: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.

Chargé d’Affaires Kristin M. Kane spoke at the Women In International Security event (www.wiisglobal.org) organized by the President of WIIS Portugal, Ana Gomes.  On the subject of women in international security and defense, Chargé Kane discussed the progress of women in the United States and on the Biden Administration’s focus on gender equality, demonstrating that we are committed to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central principles of foreign policy and national security, as well as prepared to support and promote the rights and opportunities of all women and girls.

Chargé d’Affaires Kristin M. Kane also participated in a conversation with Maria João Botelho, Deputy Director-General for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, to talk about foreign relations, the balance between life and work, and career development. The achievements of Maria João Botelho and the stimulating conversation were an inspiration for all participants.

The recently launched female entrepreneur empowering program, AWE Portugal, started with an inspirational conversation by entrepreneur Natali Morris, who now lives in Portugal while continuing to manage her projects internationally. You can find a short snippet of the conversation she had with the program participants at https://bit.ly/3wxnDod and find out more about the program carried out in partnership with Impact Hub Lisbon at www.AWEportugal.com.