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Women’s History Month: Where Are We Now?

Julie T Houth


  • The year 2023 marked the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. Women have come a long way since the 19th Amendment, but we as a society still have a long way to go.In honor of Women’s History Month this year, the author celebrates the life of her mother, who overcame adversity as a refugee and built a life for her family in America.The author also focuses on the continuing need for legislative equality for women, in this instance in the form of challenging the tampon taxes.
Women’s History Month: Where Are We Now?
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March is Women’s History Month. Our nation celebrated 100 years of women’s suffrage in 2020. The American Bar Association (ABA) had a traveling exhibit in 2020 commemorating this anniversary. This traveling exhibit was a life-size presentation of the events that took place before, during, and after the passing of the 19th Amendment. I remember seeing this exhibit at the 2020 ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas, the last in-person meeting before we were all hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. After seeing that traveling exhibit, I felt a calling, a sense of duty to do more in the legal community during the pandemic; I knew I had the tools and network as a lawyer to do so even during a time when we all shifted to virtual events and meetings. I’ve written a few articles on this topic because, as an American woman of color, I believe it’s especially meaningful and significant that the women (and men) before me advocated for women’s right to vote through the 19th Amendment.

The History of Women’s History Month

Women have come a long way since then. According to, “Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as ‘Women’s History Week.’” (Women’s History Month.) And in 1987, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month” after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project. (Id.) “Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as ‘Women’s History Month.’” (Id.) Since 1995, the month of March has celebrated Women’s History, and each year has had a different but significant theme celebrating the achievements women have made in a variety of fields throughout American history.

The Role Model I Did Not Know I Had—My Mother

The National Women’s History Alliance (formerly the National Women’s History Project) announced the theme for 2023 is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” I feel like this theme hits home for me. I’ve frequently mentioned the importance of storytelling in my previous Legal Angle columns. I’ve mentioned my father a few times in my past columns, but I don’t believe I’ve mentioned my mother directly. I am very much my father’s daughter. My mother is a complicated person, but I admire her greatly. She’s lived through extreme and traumatic times during the Vietnam War. I’ve heard numerous stories about this time from her. My mother was a few months away from graduating from college in Vietnam before the Vietnam War started. As a law and foreign relations major, she had her eyes set on becoming an ambassador. (I actually did not learn of this bit until much later in my life during my law school days.) Her dreams were abruptly ripped from her. Throughout all of that, she still managed to raise three children in a foreign country (America), become a college and graduate school graduate (she had to start from the beginning because she could not transfer her college credits from Vietnam), and become part of the American workforce for several decades.

It was not easy growing up with two busy immigrant parents, but now that I’m older, I can’t image how difficult it was for my parents to raise me and my siblings, establish themselves in a foreign country after living through war-torn times, and generally be expected to just live and thrive. Growing up, I was often told that “I’ll learn to appreciate my parents more as I get older,” and, in my case, I think that’s true. I really took my time in law school more seriously when I found out that my mom was actually a law major in college. She’s a tough character to please, and she’s known for giving tough love (if any love at all). I didn’t get something remotely close to “I am proud of you” until I graduated with my LLM in taxation. She expected nothing but the best from me, and as I am getting older, my views have aligned with hers. I also don’t expect anything but the best from me because I am capable of performing at a high level. It’s not easy, but I can do it. My mother’s legacy lives through me. The celebration of Women’s History Month doesn’t have to be about someone famous. It can simply be a celebration of the women around you, like your mother.

A Look at the Tampon Tax in 2023

Because GPSolo magazine’s March/April 2023 issue’s theme is “Health Care Law,” I feel inclined to also mention the tampon tax. Women’s History Month is about celebrating women’s achievements, and this includes the tampon tax advocacy of state sales tax practices. I wrote an article on this topic for the ABA Young Lawyers Division’s TYL magazine. (State Sales Tax Practices Prompt Tampon Tax Advocacy, TYL, Winter 2020, at 17.) Before I wrote this article, I was surprised to learn that there have not been many articles on this topic. Since my article was published, I still don’t see a lot of resources on this topic, even though it’s relevant to women’s rights.

To summarize, the tampon tax disproportionately affects women who menstruate. It’s something that cannot be controlled, yet women are taxed for it while government entities and companies benefit financially. Advocates for repeal of these taxes contend that menstrual products are a necessity for most women for most of their lives because those products are essential for working and functioning in society. Advocates argue the tampon tax amounts to sex-based discrimination, violating equal protection under both state and federal constitutions.

In November 2019, the Tampon Tax Protest Tour, the largest sales tax protest in modern history, began. Refinery29, an American digital media and entertainment company focused on young women, led the tour, which was a collective action in the first step in initiating lawsuits against the 33 states still implementing the tampon tax at the time. This movement was instrumental in banning state taxes on menstrual products in several states. According to, “Since launching this national effort, 32 states have introduced measures to eliminate the tax, and 13 have seen success.” To date, according to, 23 states do not tax menstrual products, while 27 states still do—that’s more than half the states in America. The tampon tax directly affects a woman’s health care, and menstruating is something that cannot be controlled. After revisiting this topic, I am surprised at the progress (and lack thereof) made regarding the tampon tax. I am hopeful that things will change for the better because I’ve learned from my mother that you need to cling to hope and, from there, put pen to paper. Some change is better than no change at all.

Final Thoughts

While women have come a long way since the 19th Amendment was ratified and adopted in 1920 and since the establishment of Women’s History Month in 1995, we as a society still have a long way to go. And that’s the beauty of living in America and being American. We are able to evolve our society to be better than it was in the past, something many citizens of other countries view as an unrealistic dream. Let’s honor the women in our lives by advocating for their rights as Americans and human beings.