Women’s History Month: How, When, & Why We Celebrate

Women's History Month 2021

Hello, March! It’s officially the start of Women’s History Month -- 31 days that are all about highlighting women’s contributions to American history, culture and society. It has been observed annually during March in the United States since 1987, in accordance with International Women’s Day on March 8. Celebrations for the holiday have evolved over time, so keep reading to learn more about how this all got started and how you can show your support for women this month!

Why We Celebrate It

Women have advanced our society in countless ways, and yet their achievements and contributions are often overlooked in favor of their male counterparts. We still have a long way to go in leveling the playing field. However, when we take the time to highlight all that women have done and continue to do in our world across the board – in science, our community, government, the arts, sports, medicine, etc. – it has a huge impact on the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and young women. We’re continuing a meaningful tradition that celebrates how important women are and always have been.

When It Got Started

Women’s History Month originally started as a weeklong celebration in Santa Rosa, California in 1978, organized by local school districts in Sonoma County. Presentations were given at dozens of schools and hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest and a parade was held in downtown Santa Rosa. Word about the movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a group of advocates for women and historians lobbied to get the movement national recognition. That year, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit the next year, passing a resolution establishing a national celebration. Six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March. And thus, Women’s History Month was officially established!

How To Celebrate It

There are so many different ways you can celebrate women in history and the women in your life, over the course of this month and beyond! Feel free to get creative, but ultimately, whatever you do should focus on celebrating women's achievements, empowering women, and raising awareness about women's equality.

Here are some more specific ideas:

  • Fundraise for female-focused charities

  • Share quotes, art, music and literature created by women

  • Write a letter to a woman who inspires you to say thank you

  • Support a woman-owned business or nonprofit organization

  • Watch TV and films with strong female leads -- past and present!

  • Mentor a young woman and share your expertise

  • Have conversations with men on how they can better support women

  • Challenge gender bias wherever you see it

Happy Women’s History Month! Check back here on March 8th for a special message from the Nova Fam on International Women’s Day.