Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Women's History Month: Home

About Women's History Month

About Women's History Month

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women's History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. 

Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

"Women's History Month." National Women's History Museum. www.womenshistory.org/womens-history/womens-history-month. Accessed 09 Feb 2022.

2022 National Women's History Month Theme

 

The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the yearly theme

The 2022 Women’s History theme, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” is both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.

Women as healers harken back to ancient times. Healing is the personal experience of transcending suffering and transforming it to wholeness. The gift of hope spreads light to the lives of others and reflects a belief in the unlimited possibilities of this and future generations. Together, healing and hope are essential fuels for our dreams and our recovery.

This year, in particular, we are reminded of the importance of healers and caregivers who are helping to promote and sustain hope for the future. The NWHA encourages communities throughout the country to honor local women who bring and have historically brought these priceless gifts to their families, workplaces, and neighborhoods, sometimes at great sacrifice. These are the women who, as counselors and clerics, artists and teachers, doctors, nurses, mothers, and grandmothers listen, ease suffering, restore dignity, and make decisions for our general as well as our personal welfare.

Women have long advocated for compassionate treatments and new directions in public health and in women’s mental and physical health. Women have also historically led the way in mending divisions, healing wounds, and finding peaceful solutions. This timeless work, in so many ways and in addition to so many other tasks, has helped countless individuals in our communities recover and follow their dreams.

The 2022 theme proudly honors those who, in both public and private life, provide healing and promote hope for the betterment of all.

"2022 Theme." National Women's History Alliance. nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/2022-theme/. Accessed 09 Feb 2022.

Notable American Women Firsts

Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood - first woman to argue before the US Supreme Court.

Kathryn Bigelow - first woman to win Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

Simone Biles - tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time. 

Elizabeth Blackwell - first female doctor in the United States.

Anne Bradstreet - first woman author published in America. 

Maia Chaka - first African American official in the NFL.

Shirley Chisholm - first African American woman in Congress and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for President of the US from one of the two major political parties.

Jackie Cochran - first woman to break the sound barrier in flight.

Bessie Colman - first woman of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot's license. 

Sharice Davids - first openly LGBT Native American elected to the US Congress and first openly lesbian person elected to the US Congress from Kansas.

Tammy Duckworth - first woman with a disability elected to Congress and the first Senator to give birth while in office.

Amelia Earhart - first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Emerald Fennell and Chloe Zhao - 2021 was the first year that two women were nominated in the Academy Award Best Director category.

Aretha Franklin - first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bobbi Gibb - first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon.

Cammi Granato - first woman to be hired as an Assistant General Manager of an NHL team (Vancouver Canucks) and became the first woman to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and the US Hockey Hall of Fame.

Kristen Griest & Shaye Haver - first women to graduate from the US Army Ranger school.

Avril Haines - first woman to serve as director of National Intelligence. 

Carla Hayden - first woman and first African American to be Librarian of Congress.

Joy Harjo - first Native American United States Poet Laureate.

Kamala Harris - sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

Mazie Hirono -  first elected female senator from Hawaii, and the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate.

Erin Jackson - first African American woman to win Olympic gold in speed skating.

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper - first (and so far) the only female Chief to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Sarah McBride - first openly transgender state senator.

Wilma Mankiller - first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Rita Moreno - first Latinix to win an Oscar and first Latinix EGOT winner.

Juliana Morell - first woman to earn a Doctorate Degree.

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson - 2021 the first African American women to win Academy Award for best makeup and hair.

Sandra Day O'Connor - first female US Supreme Court Justice.

Ellen Ochoa - first Latinix in space and first Latinix director of the Johnson Space Center in 2012.

Frances Perkins - first woman to serve as a Presidential Cabinet Member.

Jeannette Rankin - first woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

Michaela Jae Rodriguez - first transgender woman to be nominated for an Emmy award in a major acting category.

Sonia Sotomayor - first Latina/x Supreme Court Justice.

Sarah Thomas - became the NFL's first permanent female game official.

Edith Wharton - first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

Janet Yellen - first woman to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.

 

"Notable Women Firsts." UMKC Libraries Book Displays. UMKC University Libraries. libguides.library.umkc.edu/bookdisplays/womenfirsts. Accessed 09 Feb 2022.