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FEBRUARY

February 1, 1961

The release of the oral contraceptive pill ‘Anovlar’ in Australia ushered in a momentous change in women’s lives.

Initially available only to married women, and burdened with a 27.5% luxury tax, the Pill would give women the freedom to avoid unwanted pregnancies and plan parenthood.


February 1, 1851

Mary Shelley dies. She was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.


February 4, 1913

Birth of Rosa Parks, an American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement." She, of course, was the woman who in effect kick-started the movement by resisting bus segregation.


February 6, 1918

British women over the age of 30 with minimum property qualifications get the right to vote through the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1918.


February 6, 1952

Elizabeth II becomes the first queen regant of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms since Queen Victoria upon the death of her father, George VI.


February 9, 1870

The YWCA is formally founded in New York City, and is the first branch of the organisation in the USA.


February 12, 2004

Barbie officially becomes a single lady after Mattel announce her split with longtime boyfriend, Ken.


February 12, 1909

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded. Prominent women among the charter members include, among others, Ida Wells-Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Garlin Spencer and Mary White Ovington.


February 12, 1990

Carmen Lawrence becomes Premier of Western Australia, the first woman to become premier of a State of Australia.


February 14

Valentines Day! Although no-one has pinpointed the exact origins of the day, it's widely thought that it began from a celebration called "Lupercalia" where Roman men would whip women with the pelts of freshly skinned animals.Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, believing this would make them fertile. Read more here.


February 19, 1963

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is published, widely credited with sparking the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States.

In 1957, Friedan was asked to conduct a survey of her former Smith College classmates for their 15th anniversary reunion; the results, in which she found that many of them were unhappy with their lives as housewives, prompted her to begin research for The Feminine Mystique, conducting interviews with other suburban housewives, as well as researching psychology, media, and advertising.


February 27, 1980

There has only ever been one Grammy Awarded for Best Disco- and it was awarded to Gloria Gaynor on this day for I Will Survive.


February 26, 1995

Selena Quintanilla Perez gives her last concert in front of over 74 thousand people live at the Houston Astrodome, a few days before she is shot to death. Her huge contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century. She also ranks among the most influential Latin artists of all-time and is credited for catapulting a music genre into the mainstream market.


February 29, 1940

For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award.


February 29, 1692

The first arrests warrants are issued for women accused of witchcraft, in which would later become the Salem Witch Trials.

Based on formal complaints from Joseph Hutchinson, Thomas Putnam, Edward Putnam and Thomas Preston, Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin issue warrants to arrest Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba for afflicting Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr. and Elizabeth Hubbard.