Women's History Month
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 proclamation 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.
*International Women's Day, is also celebrated annually in many countries around the world on March 8. This commemoration originated in the activities of labor movements in the early 1900's in North America and across Europe. The United Nations officially recognized International Women's Day in 1977.
"Women's History Month." National Women's History Museum. www.womenshistory.org/womens-history/womens-history-month. Accessed 09 Feb 2022.
The 2023 National Women’s History Theme
“Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories”
The National Women’s History Alliance, which spearheaded the movement for March being declared National Women’s History Month, has announced the women’s history theme for 2023, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
Throughout 2023, the NWHA will encourage recognition of women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, and more. The timely theme honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.
From the earliest storytellers through pioneering journalists, our experiences have been captured by a wide variety of artists and teachers. These include authors, songwriters, scholars, playwrights, performers, and grandmothers throughout time. Women have long been instrumental in passing on our heritage in word and in print to communicate the lessons of those who came before us. Women’s stories, and the larger human story, expand our understanding and strengthen our connections with each other.
As in previous years, the Alliance, which is centered in Santa Rosa, California, will encourage local communities throughout the country to use the year’s theme to guide their own celebrations. The NWHA will popularize national efforts through on-line celebrations, a special magazine and thematic products that recognize and honor these brave, accomplished and influential women who told – and continue to tell – our stories. Today and over the years ahead, their dedication and shared desire to give voice to the voiceless are critical to keeping us informed, entertained and aware.
"2023 Theme." National Women's History Alliance. nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/2023-theme/. Accessed 22 Feb 2023..
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity in our Nation. We also reaffirm our commitment to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls in the United States and around the world. We are mindful that we are building on the legacy of both recognized trailblazers and unsung heroines who have guided the course of American history and continue to shape its future.
The full participation of women is a foundational tenet of democracy. Women — often women of color — have been on the frontlines, fighting for and securing equal rights and opportunity throughout our country’s history as abolitionists, civil rights leaders, suffragists, and labor activists. Women continue to lead as advocates for reproductive rights, champions of racial justice, and LGBTQI+ equality. Throughout history, these women have opened the doors of opportunity for subsequent generations of dreamers and doers. As community leaders, educators, doctors, scientists, child care providers, and more, women power our economy and lead our Nation. As first responders and service members, they stand watch over our lives and liberties. As innovators, entrepreneurs, and essential workers in every industry, they represent the very best of America.
But despite significant progress, women and girls continue to face systemic barriers to full and equal participation in our economy and society. Last year, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping away a constitutional right from the American people and the ability of millions of women to make decisions about their own bodies, putting their health and lives at risk. Disparities persist in economic security, health care, and caregiving responsibilities, especially for women and girls of color. Those who perform critical work, including those who care for our children and our families, are too often overlooked, underpaid, and undervalued.
Ours is the only Nation in the world established upon a profound but simple idea — that all people are created equal. My Administration is committed to upholding that idea and to making its promise real for every American. That is why I created the Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality across the Federal Government. It is why I released the first-ever national gender strategy to promote the rights and opportunities of women at home and abroad, which outlines my Administration’s commitment to equal access to education, economic security for women and families, health care, and freedom from gender-based violence. As we implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, we are working to reduce barriers so that women can access new jobs in sectors where they have been historically underrepresented. I have signed historic legislation to ensure equal protection for pregnant women and nursing mothers in the workplace. And I strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, a major milestone in our ongoing efforts to ensure all people can live free from violence. Finally, in December 2022, I was proud to sign the Respect for Marriage Act and defend the rights of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples.
My Administration will continue to defend reproductive freedom to ensure that all Americans — regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income — have the ability to make the choices that are right for themselves and their families. I have taken executive action to safeguard access to reproductive care, including medication abortion, help ensure women can receive emergency medical care, protect patients’ privacy and access to accurate information about their reproductive rights, and combat discrimination in the health care system. I continue to call on the Congress to pass a Federal law restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade so all women in every State have the right to choose. And my Administration released the first Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis to save lives and address systemic discrimination that many women face every day in our health care system, including women of color, women in rural communities, and women with disabilities.
Leading our efforts is the most diverse group of women at the highest levels of Government in United States history, including Vice President Kamala Harris and a record number of female cabinet secretaries. Together with the most diverse set of judges ever nominated to the Federal bench — including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — women are seated at every table where decisions are being made.
This month, as we continue our work to advance gender equity and equality, let us celebrate the contributions of women throughout our history and honor the stories that have too often gone untold. Let us recognize that fundamental freedoms are interconnected: when opportunities for women are withheld, we all suffer; and when women’s lives are improved, we all gain. Let us strive to create a Nation where every woman and girl knows that her possibilities know no bounds in America.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2023 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also invite all Americans to visit WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the vital contribution of women to our Nation’s history.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.