What is Women's History Month?

White House Luncheon For Elected Republican Women Officials
White House Luncheon For Elected Republican Women Officials / Mark Reinstein/GettyImages

While Black History Month is probably the best-known time for honoring the struggles and accomplishments of minority groups, there are actually a lot of other commemorative celebrations intended to focus attention on groups that often get overlooked.

One of the more notable examples of this is Women's History Month. Despite making up around half of the human population, women have historically faced discrimination. In many societies, they were not even considered citizens until very recently, and some countries still don't ensure equal rights for women.

However, the widespread acknowledgement of Women's History Month is a relatively new phenomenon. Because of this, many people don't know exactly what it is and why it matters. Here's everything you need to know to understand and appreciate Women's History Month.

What is Women's History Month?

Women's History Month is a period intended to focus on the way women have changed and influenced history. While this would seem to be fairly straightforward, a combination of patriarchal social structures and downplayed forms of historical record mean that women's contributions are often overshadowed by the men around them.

This is in part because women's voices are historically underrepresented in historical texts and primary sources. While men had the opportunity to tell their own stories, it was rare for a woman to have the same chance, particularly in written formats. Furthermore, they were often expected to downplay their own experiences to seem suitably humble.

When you think back on American History or World History classes, how many women were given special attention? Of those, how many were at least partially known for their husbands and/or the men they seduced? Excluding the suffrage movement, there aren't many documented events where women's contributions shine through.

When is Women's History Month celebrated?

In the United States, Women's History Month is celebrated every March. This was done as an extension of International Women's Day, which takes place every year on March 8. That date was chosen because it is the anniversary of multiple major protests for better working conditions and female suffrage.

A brief history of Women's History Month

In order to understand where Women's History Month came from, it's necessary to start by looking back on International Women's History Day. The event was originally celebrated in 1911, and while it lost popularity in the latter half of the 20th century, many female-focused organizations still knew about it.

Feminist advocate Laura X revived the holiday in 1969 with a march in Berkeley, California, which prompted more of an emphasis on women's rights and history. She argued that Women's Day should be extended to a week, since one day was hardly enough for half the population. Her efforts helped create the The Women’s History Research Center, which continued her fight.

The Sonoma school district in California decided to run with this idea, celebrating Women's History Week in 1978. Like Black History Week, this remained a relatively small, grassroots campaign, until it received presidential acknowledgement. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter formally declared the week of March 8 to be National Women's History Week.

"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.

Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people."

Jimmy Carter, 1980

Following his lead, Congress began releasing Joint Resolutions authorizing the celebration for the next several years.

In 1987, the National Women's History Project petitioned Congress to extend the celebrations to a full month. They agreed, and Ronald Reagan was the first President to make a proclamation declaring March as Women's History Month. This has been a customary task for the President ever since.

Is it celebrated in other countries?

Women's History Month is frequently celebrated outside the United States, though they do seem to be largely inspired by the way it is celebrated here. Here are all the countries that currently celebrate Women's History Month and when they celebrate it.


Australia began celebrating Women's History Month in 2000, thanks to the advocacy of Helen Leonard. They celebrated it on March every year until 2014, when the Australian Women's History Forum hosted the final official celebration. They hosted a debate, wherein they considered whether an event like Women's History Month is actually necessary in Australia.


Women's History Month was first celebrated in Canada in 1992, and it has been celebrated every October since. While many countries follow the lead of the US by celebrating in March, Canada chose to honor their country's notable events for women.

On October 18, 1929, the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council made a landmark decision in the case Edwards v. Canada. The case followed Emily Murphy, who was rejected from being able to become a Canadian Senator due to the legal understanding that women were not "persons." The case found that women could be part of the Senate.

In honor of the finding that women were, in fact, "persons" deserving of access to the political system, Canada celebrates Women's History Month every October.


Historians from Hungary have hosted a handful of Women's History Month events since 2021, generally during March. However, there is no concrete method of celebration acknowledged or established by the government.


A group of volunteers at the Women's Museum in Moscow celebrates Women's History Month in March of every year, primarily through making social media posts about prominent women in Russian history. However, this is still a very isolated celebration, as is the celebration of May 8 as Women's Historical Night.


While the Ukraine does not have a government-ordained celebration of Women's History Month, there have been some smaller pushes to adopt the tradition. Namely, The Gender Museum in Kharkiv has hosted annual events celebrating Women's History. However, they are currently closed due to the ongoing war.

Note: Other countries may celebrate Women's History Month, but this information is not readily available online.

How to celebrate Women's History Month

There's a difference between acknowledging Women's History Month and celebrating it, which requires considerably more effort. In order to honor the original intentions of this honorary month, people should seek out information on women's contributions to history.

There are many ways that you can celebrate. For those who love history, there are plenty of biographies on important women in history that can be read, as well as interesting compilations about the role of women in different civilizations.

On a smaller scale, many websites (including Ask Everest) will be putting out articles highlighting women in history. This can be a source of fascinating, bite-sized historical content.

For those who don't like to read or who struggle with consuming non-fiction through that medium, there are also many multi-media ways to learn. There are television shows like Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, The White Princess, and The Spanish Princess series that focus on women's lives during the War of the Roses. There are also great movies, like "Hidden Figures," which show the importance of women like Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson to the male-dominated space program.

Finally, the information is easily accessible online. The National Women's History Museum and the National Women's History Month websites show events and exhibits that you can visit in person or view online focused on the subject.

If you're not sure where to start, it can help to look at the theme. Since it was first recognized by the government, there has always been a theme for Women's History Month, chosen by the National Women's History Project. In 2024, the theme is "Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion."

Why isn't there a Men's History Month?

Inevitably, any time that special attention is given to one population, the question comes, "Why doesn't this population get their own month?" And, on the surface, that seems like a perfectly rational question.

March is Women's History Month. November is Transgender and Nonbinary Empowerment Month. So why don't men get a month to celebrate their accomplishments too?

The answer to that question is the same as the answer to why there isn't a White History Month: Because they don't need it.

According to the 2017 report "Where are the Women? A Report on the Status of Women in the
United States Social Studies Standards
," the social studies curriculum in the United States features 737 distinct historical figures. Only 178 (about 24%) are women. Even then, these women are rarely given focused attention, with 98 only being mentioned once.

Take a minute to think about every major event in US history. Get a pen and paper and write down every major figure that you associate with those events. How many are women?

Now, many people will be quick to argue that this isn't their fault. And that's true; it isn't. But it is a problem. Women were involved in all of those events. Women have been roughly half of the population since the dawn of humanity, and they were not just sitting around all that time.

Nobody is saying to ignore the men in history. We're not going to start saying that Martha Washington was the commander of the Continental Army or that Coretta Scott King gave the "I Have a Dream" speech. But it is important to note the achievements of those women, and of the thousands of others who made change happen in the world, with or without recognition.

Got questions about history, trivia, or anything else? Send an email to askeverest@fansided.comand we might answer here on the site!

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