The Hows and Whys of Women’s History Month

“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated,” stated, writer and prominent civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. This March marks the 34th Women’s History Month. There are many ways to celebrate Women’s History Month, but first, here is a little history behind why we celebrate it.

Women’s History Month originally started as Women’s History Week, in 1978, in Sonoma County California. This week corresponded with International Women’s Day (March 8) dating back to 1911. The original celebrations took place in a school district in California. The following year, 1979, there was a two-week-long conference held at Sarah Lawrence College. The celebrations were such a success that they spread to many other communities across the country.

Following the success of the original women’s history celebrations, a group of women in the National Women’s History Project began taking action for national recognition. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation marking the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week.

It was not until 1987 that Congress passed a law designating March as Women’s History Month. Since then, each president proclaims March as Women’s History Month.

Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance chooses a yearly theme. Past themes include 2018: Nevertheless, She Persisted, 2016: Working to Form a More Perfect Union, 2015: Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives, and many more.

The 2021 theme is Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced. This theme carries on from 2020’s theme, Valiant Women of the Vote after many of last year’s celebrations were cut short because of the pandemic. This year’s theme continues to recognize 100 years since the 19th amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote. The theme continues to honor both living and deceased suffragettes. The National Women’s History Museum puts together activities to celebrate during the month of March. This year some of the activities include online exhibits, virtual tours, biographies, and films. For a full list of activities throughout the month of March visit National Women’s History Museum or download the 2021 Women’s History Month Resource Toolkit here.
Other ways to support Women’s History Month include reading books, watching films, and supporting women-owned businesses.

Here is a list of some great books celebrating women:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
For more books check out your local library or visit for a list.
Some movies to watch that highlight women include:
Wild (2014)
Roma (2018)
Suffragette (2015)
Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
Knock Down The House (2019)

For more movies to watch visit for a complete list.
For a list of women-owned businesses check out For a list of local Michigan, women-owned businesses check out

These are just a few ways to get involved this March for Women’s History Month. Other ways include donating to organizations such as Women for Women International, National Women’s History Alliance, The Malala Fund, Girls Who Code, and so many more. Consider celebrating Women’s History Month in your own way!