Who doesn’t love blasting a power anthem as an instant happiness boost? March is Women’s History Month, and it’s a chance to listen to the voices of women shouting, speaking, and singing out for women’s rights and achievements across the years. Here’s the history behind this special month honoring women and how you can join the celebration.
What is Women’s History Month?
While women’s accomplishments are worth celebrating every day, Women’s History Month provides an additional platform to highlight how women have shaped U.S. history. It’s a chance to learn more about the role women played in major historical events, reflect on the remarkable achievements and progress women have made in securing their rights, and consider the work that still needs to be done.
Women’s History Month in the United States started in 1981 with Women’s History Week, which coincided with International Women’s Day (March 8). Clearly, a week isn’t enough time to scratch the surface of exceptional women in history, and the first Women’s History Month occurred in March 1987.
Women’s History Month vs. International Women’s Day
March 8 has been recognized as International Women’s Day since 1910. The date was a way to mark women’s rights protests that took place on that date in 1857 and 1908. International Women’s Day is an official holiday in 27 countries and is recognized in many more. Some people view it as a day for activism, while in other cases, IWD is an opportunity for men to honor the women in their life with flowers or small gifts.
Women’s History Month is celebrated in March, mainly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It’s a time for schools to focus on studying notable women, for companies to recognize women’s roles in leadership and progress, and for women’s rights groups to encourage all to take part in activism for gender equality.
How to celebrate Women’s History Month
You can support women’s rights and acknowledge women’s achievements in many ways. Try a few of these and see which ones you’d like to continue, even after Women’s History Month ends.
- Watch a woman-run TV show. Do you mainly watch TV or movies with male directors or main actors? Writers and actresses like Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are behind some of our favorite shows. Watch old faves or find an up-and-coming, women-run show to tell all your friends about.
- Read books written by women. Women are publishing just over 50% of new books hitting the market, meaning you’ve got tons of amazing reads to choose from by women in every genre. Try N.K. Jemisin (fantasy), Jasmine Guillory (romance), Alma Katsu (horror), or Ruth Ozeki (winner of the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction).
- Choose women-owned businesses and restaurants. Support women’s success and find a tasty spot to answer the question of, “Where do you want to eat?” A win-win.
- Learn women’s history. Sometimes, textbooks focus on men’s accomplishments and overlook women who made a difference (if you’ve seen the movie “Hidden Figures,” you know what we mean — and if not, you know what to do). Make a point to learn about women’s rights or a female figure you missed in school.
- Lift women up. Make time for a date night with your best female friends. Quality time is a crucial element of building strong friendships. Shower your friends with support and love (maybe even a fun gift exchange), and trust they’re there for you in return.
- Learn your activism style. Women’s rights have come a long way, but there’s work left to do. Take a quiz to see what actions could be your best way to join the movement.
- Speak up at work. The gender wage gap is real and more pronounced for women of color. There may be steps you can take to work toward equity.
- Support a cause. Women’s History Month is a reason to celebrate and a chance to look closer at real issues affecting women: domestic assault, pregnancy and childbirth dangers, sexual violence, and other issues threatening women’s health. Now’s an excellent time to pick a cause close to your heart and donate or help raise awareness.
- Be intersectional. Intersectionality refers to how multiple interconnected aspects of identity (e.g., race, class, ability, religion, gender, sexuality) interact and affect the privilege and discrimination a person may experience. Learning about these interconnected factors makes you a stronger advocate to work toward all women getting the opportunities they deserve.
- Write a note. Send a thank-you note to a woman who’s inspired you, or invite a woman you admire to get a coffee. Showing gratitude and building relationships with mentors helps create a strong, supportive network of women around you.
- Volunteer to help. You’ve likely reached success at some point, thanks to support from at least one woman in your life. Pay it forward by mentoring or helping younger women or girls to achieve their dreams.
- Call your rep. Unsatisfied with government decisions? You can trust that your voice matters thanks to brave women who have come before us. Call or email your representative and speak up about changes you want to see in policy.
Once you get started, you might find even more ways to cultivate a rich, rewarding community of women around you, from your closest friends to the artists you admire and officials representing you in politics. Your actions can be part of a larger effort to make the world a better place for women and girls.