Throughout Women's History Month, we celebrate the contributions of women. While it's important to celebrate women's history during the other 11 months, too, during March we can remember the sacrifices made by women, for women to help make the world, and our country, a more inclusive place.
Women's History Month was officially created by Congress in 1987 — but its roots go much deeper, starting with suffragists fighting for women to get the vote in the early 20th century.
Here is why Women's History Month is in March and other facts you might not know about the month-long celebration.
When is Women's History Month?
Women’s History Month is celebrated in March. It started as National Woman's Day, a Feb. 28 meeting of socialists and suffragists in Manhattan in 1909. History contributor Sarah Pruitt told TODAY that this meeting was held on a Sunday so that people would not miss work.
In March 1910, German activist Clara Zetkin suggested that International Women's Day be recognized as an international holiday at the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen — and all 17 countries in attendance at the conference agreed.
So, on March 18, 1911, Europeans finally followed suit in recognizing International Women's Day, while Americans continued to rally for Women's Day on the last Sunday in February until the 1970s.
How did it become a month-long celebration?
The holiday wasn't widely celebrated in America until the United Nations recognized it in 1970s. Later that decade in California, in order to persuade schools to comply with recently passed Title IX laws, a task force in California created Women's History Week. And, in March 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that March 8 was officially the start of National Women’s History Week.
By 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March Women’s History Month.
Important Dates During Women's History Month
Although Women's History Month celebrations take place all throughout March, there are some dates that are significant.
- International Women's Day still takes place on March 8.
- On March 13, 1913, the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., took place, where more than 8,000 women gathered to demand a constitutional amendment guaranteeing their right to vote.
- On March 22, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed in the Senate.
Why do we celebrate Women's History Month?
Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the courage of women in past generations and to celebrate how their efforts and bravery afforded women the opportunities and freedoms they have today.
It also is a great time to celebrate women who make a difference in your life: perhaps a mom, grandmother, sister, teacher, boss or mentor. Without the efforts of women from generations before us, who knows if these influential women in our lives would have had the opportunity to succeed?