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Women’s History: First female NFL official started in 2015

In 1981, the U.S. Congress authorized and requested President Ronald Reagan proclaim the week beginning on March 7, 1982 as Women’s History Week. In 1987, at the request of the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated March as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents formally issued proclamations recognizing specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

By Thomasine Gaither

For the Enterprise

March marks the annually celebrated Women’s History Month – an observance of the incredible accomplishments of women throughout history.

In the early 20th Century, labor movements across North America and Europe helped spur the first celebrations of women in modern history. Members of the women’s movement in Russia organized the first unofficial International Women’s Day on March 8, 1913.

It wasn’t until more than 50 years later, in 1977, that the United Nations finally recognized the holiday. According to the UN website, it is a day when women are recognized for their achievements, without regard to divisions, whether national ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

It was only a year after the first officially recognized International Women’s Day that Sonoma County, Calif. celebrate Women’s History Week. Institutions like Sarah Lawrence College took note and began initiating similar celebrations within their own communities, organizations and school districts. Efforts to secure a “national women’s history week paid off when President Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the first week of March National Women’s History Week in 1980. It soon became the entire month.

Female Football Official

Sarah Thomas is an American football official for the National Football League (NFL). Wearing uniform No. 53, Thomas is the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game and the first to officiate in a Big Ten Stadium.

Sarah Thomas made history in 2015 when she became the first female hired as a full-time NFL official. While she wasn’t the first woman to officiate an NFL game – Shannon Easton stepped in as a replacement during the 2012 referee lockout – she is the first to earn the position full time.

In January 2019, Thomas became the first female on-field official in playoff history. She was a part of the NFL officiating crew for the divisional round game between the Patriots and Chargers.

Sarah Thomas has been changing the game since starting on her path to become and NFL referee, as the first female official at multiple levels.

Her spouse is Brian Thomas. She has three sons and a sister. She attended Pascagoula High School and the University of Mobile.