Women’s History Month was initially just International Women’s Day, a day that commemorated the Feb. 28 meeting of socialists and suffragists in Manhattan in 1909.
One year later, on March 8, 1910, according to BBC, a German activist named Clara Zetkin suggested that they recognize International Women’s Day at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. With 17 countries in attendance at the conference, the decision to proceed was unanimous.
On March 8, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark, though the holiday wasn’t widely celebrated in the United States until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975.
Title IX and Women’s History Week
In 1977, in order to persuade school principals to comply with the recently passed Title IX, a task force in California created Women’s History Week. They used that week to celebrate the accomplishments of women.
In March 1980, after celebrations had spread across the country, President Jimmy Carter declared that March 8 was officially the start of National Women’s History Week. That same year, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Maryland Representative Barbara Mikulski co-sponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution declaring the week of March 8, 1981, National Women’s History Week. By 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March Women’s History Month. Since then, every president has declared the month of March Women’s History Month.
Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced
Because last year’s Women’s History Month was affected by COVID-19, this year’s theme is a continuation of 2020’s, which is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.
“The National Women’s History Alliance is determined that the important roles of multicultural suffragists and voting rights activists continue to be recognized and honored,” the National Women’s History Alliance said. “We refuse to allow their voices to be silenced, even by a pandemic.”
Credits: Andrea Wurzburger / People / BBC News / Getty Images