Curious about the origin of Women’s History Month? Wondering how it started and who decided it should be recognized? How about some ideas for how to celebrate? Here is some important background as well as 10 simple but powerful ways to celebrate Women’s History Month!
Simply put, Women’s History Month is recognized in March and celebrates the important contributions of women to history, culture, and society.
When did Women’s History Month Start?
In 1978, the school district of Sonoma, California, organized a weeklong celebration, highlighting the contributions of women to culture, history, and society. Schools throughout the district participated and a celebratory parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa.
Important to note: This celebratory week actually had its roots in the first International Woman’s Day, which took place in 1911. We’ll return to this later!
Nobody knew it at the time, but from this humble beginning, the weeklong event would spread to other school districts and communities throughout the country, paving the way for Women’s History Month!
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation which declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”
The following year, U.S. Congress passed a resolution establishing a national celebration.
Then in 1987, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.
From a week to a month!
Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been observed annually during the month of March in the United States.
Before Women’s History Month
Now before we go on, it’s important to understand that long before Women’s History Month was recognized, *International Woman’s Day was already taking place throughout the world. And the origin isn’t without some controversy! (surprise, surprise!) Seriously, check it out!
* Notice that it was originally referred to as “woman”, not “women”.
In March of 1911, International Woman’s Day occurred for the first time. It took place across the globe, as groups of grassroots organizers celebrated the economic, political, and social achievements of women. In the years that followed, the event continued in various places across the globe and at some point along the way, ‘woman’ was traded out for ‘women’.
In 1975, which was recognized as International Women’s Year, the United Nations General Assembly began celebrating March 8th as International Women’s Day.
Reflecting on the contributions of women throughout history, as well as the accomplishments women are currently making, it’s clear that we have a lot to celebrate!
10 Simple Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month!
1. Watch a brief video about the origins of Women’s History Month
Choose one, or watch all three. But seriously, these videos are only a few minutes each, so start watching!
A quick and easy way to begin!
2. Watch a documentary about empowering females
There’s something so powerful about watching a documentary following the journey of an empowering female. Learning about their unique challenges, struggles, and hardships helps bring them to life in new and meaningful ways.
If you’re in need of suggestions, I recommend one (or all!) of the following documentaries:
Note: If you’re planning to watch any of the following documentaries with your kids, you’ll want to preview the content below and decide on the level of appropriateness for your family.
RBG (About Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg)
Maiden (About the first all-female crew to enter the Whitebread Round the World yacht race)
American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (About author, poet, singer, and professor Maya Angelou)
Dolores (About Chicana activist and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta)
He Named Me Malala (About Malala Yousafzai, who survived being attacked by the Taliban in Pakistan and is now an educational rights activist)
Enjoy learning about an inspiring woman (or women!) through watching a documentary.
3. Make a list of inspirational women in your own life
What women have made a positive impact in your own life?
Maybe it’s your grandmother, mother, a sister, best friend, colleague, neighbor, teacher, mentor…
Think about the women who have influenced you and who have made a positive impact.
Include women who you have known personally but also reflect on the women you’ve never known in real life but who have helped to shape and mold you in significant ways.
Then list them all out, one by one.
List all of the inspirational women in your own life!
There are A TON of incredible TED Talks by women.
From advocating for social justice, discussing the importance of diversity in leadership, challenging society’s beauty standards, and protecting the environment, dynamic women are EVERYWHERE!
Choose a TED Talk (or multiple talks!) for a dose of encouragement.
5. Consider what the word ‘feminism’ means
Feminism is a loaded word.
Am I right!?
Like, seriously packed with strife and controversy.
But why exactly?
Before we get into the complexity of different opinions and emotions, let’s start with the basic definition of Feminism.
- the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
- organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
That sounds good, right?
So why the controversy?
Well, plenty of opinions, beliefs, and identities have been attached to the word ‘feminism’ over the years. The word itself has come to be seen as a representation of specific agendas when in reality, being a ‘feminist’ simply means believing in equal rights and protections for men AND women.
There is an article that I think does a good job of exploring the nuance and complexity of feminism which you might like to check out.
Now consider what your personal thoughts are about feminism. What reaction do you have when you hear the word and how has it impacted your life?
Take the time to really consider what the word ‘Feminism’ means, as well as your reaction to it.
6. Read a book about inspiring females
Fortunately, there are COUNTLESS books to choose from! We’re not lacking in the sheer volume of incredible women and we’re lucky enough to have lots of books written about them.
If you’re in need of some suggestions, check out the following:
Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini (great choice for younger readers, age 9 and up)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (recommended for teens and adults)
Becoming by Michelle Obama (recommended for teens and adults)
Choose a title, head to your local library, or purchase your own copy and start reading about an inspiring female!
7. discuss the different roles that women play in society
Women are EVERYWHERE!
Think about every role you can imagine that women actively engage in. From the corporate world to non-profit organizations…women who have served in the military, pursued professional sports, acted, directed, produced, held public office…the doctors, dentists, teachers, therapists, and nurses…women who have forged a career outside of the home and others who have devoted themselves to homemaking and caretaking.
The contributions of women are immeasurable and invaluable!
Women play a wide variety of different (and equally important!) roles in society. Let’s be sure to recognize and celebrate them!
8. Send a thank-you note to a woman who has positively impacted your life
How about sending a thank-you note to an impactful woman in your life?
You might want to look back at your list of inspirational women. Is there someone on that list you’d like to acknowledge? Imagine how receiving a note of gratitude might feel for them.
Take the gratitude in your heart and transfer it to a thank-you card for a treasured woman in your life.
9. Donate clothing to women in need
Do you have any gently-worn clothing that no longer serves you? Consider donating directly to a women’s shelter.
And if you have professional business attire, you can donate to Dress for Success, an organization that provides professional clothing to women as they seek to better their circumstances.
Donate any clothing you’re no longer using to women in need.
10. Lift women up!
Throughout history, women have been underrepresented, discriminated against, and pitted against each other.
But we are truly stronger together.
Anytime a woman advances in her career and is granted a raise which better provides for her family, let’s celebrate.
When women run for office in order to make sure females are being represented, let’s support her.
Let’s honor and respect the women who have decided to work within the home, raising children full time.
We are ALL valuable!
Let’s acknowledge the variety of roles women have and the contributions they make.
Let’s lift each other up!
To recap, here are 10 simple ways to celebrate Women’s History Month!
- Watch a brief video about the origins of Women’s History Month
- Watch a documentary about empowering females
- Make a list of inspirational women in your own life
- Watch a TED talk
- Look up what the word ‘feminism’ means
- Read a book about inspiring female
- Discuss the different roles that women play in society
- Send a thank-you note to a woman who has positively impacted your life
- Donate clothing to women in need
- Lift women up!
And if you want even More Information check out the following:
Women’s History Month is an ideal time to reflect on the achievements of women, celebrate our collective success, and look for ways to continue and support women worldwide. Happy Women’s History Month!