Global Holidays and Celebrations: Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is a wonderful time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and in our current society. There are a variety of ways to help recognize and celebrate Women’s History Month. Our top recommendations? Research and learn about important women in history, use social media to share information about their achievements and how they have shaped our society, donate to organizations that support and empower women, fight for gender equality, practice intersectional feminism, attend or participate in local events that celebrate the accomplishments of women, shop woman-owned brands, and finally, listen to and center women's stories and experiences. We've compiled some great resources to help you get started below - check them out!
Let's Start With The History of Women’s History Month
Before the month of March was designated as Women’s History Month, there was a single day dedicated to Women, and many of women’s contributions and struggles were otherwise ignored. The first International Women’s Day took place on February 28, 1909 and was observed by the Socialist Party in New York City. February 28th was chosen to honor the garment worker’s strikes in New York that had taken place 1 year earlier and consisted of thousands of women marching for economic rights. This strike was timed to take place on the anniversary of an even earlier 1857 protest against poor working conditions in New York. By 1911, Women’s Day was an international holiday that spread throughout Europe.
Back in the U.S., feminists were bringing attention to the fact that standard history books largely ignored the contributions of women in America. In the 1970s, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women sought to revise the school curriculum and incorporate a “Women’s History Week” in 1978. Soon after this, on International Women’s Day in 1979 in Tehran, Iran, more than 100,000 women gathered in the streets to protest the forced use of hijab after the Iranian Revolution.
The observance of Women’s History Week spread across the United States and became a cause for celebration, culminating in a parade in Santa Rosa, California. As the observance of this week gained more popularity, organizers lobbied Congress and then-President Jimmy Carter. Carter proclaimed the first national Women’s History Week for March 2-8, 1980. The Women’s National History Project started lobbying for a longer observation, and in 1987, Congress established Women’s History Month.
Explore a robust timeline of women’s history and rights in the U.S. here.
Why is Women’s History Month Important?
Unfortunately, the history we are taught in school is in, many cases, inaccurate due to either strategic or unknowing omission or the publishing of outright untruths. For most of humanity’s written history, history has been written primarily by well-educated men and men in power. These men usually did not understand or have interest in telling the stories of people who were not like them. For instance, books about Victorian Britain speak of how men went to work, and women stayed home. Historians of the time got their information from the letters, diaries, and testaments of other well-educated and “high class” individuals. But that kind of lifestyle wasn’t the norm for everyone in Victorian Britain. These histories don’t give an accurate view – or any view - of what life was like for the working class.
The days, lives, and histories of the working class are just as important as those of the middle and upper classes. And History, as a subject, should be inclusive of all peoples from all backgrounds. Our collective cultural, racial, gender, and other histories are what make up the history of humanity. Women’s history is humanity’s history. And despite the contributions of women to history, science, and industry, and even though women make up 50% of the global population, they are still a marginalized group. Globally, women are paid 24% less for the same work as men, are underrepresented and face higher discrimination in the workplace, are subject to unfair and sexist laws, and are fighting every day for the right to learn and live. It is important to keep these struggles top of mind (and conversation) because there is still so much more work to be done to get to a place of true equity and equality.
Women’s History Month: 2023
The National Women’s History Alliance – the group that spearheaded the movement for a month-long celebration of Women’s History - 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.”
How to Celebrate
1. Invite female guest speakers to speak to your teams at work
2. If you don’t already have a women’s ERG, set one up! (Psst! If you aren't sure where to start, Level can help with planning and implementing an ERG!)
3. Learn women’s history and prioritize women’s stories
UNWomen has an incredible interactive timeline of women’s history across the world
Take a virtual tour through the National Women’s History Museum, an innovative online museum that uncovers, interprets, and celebrates women’s contributions
Madison Butler (LinkedIn)
Miss Representation (Kanopy)
He Named Me Malala (Amazon Prime)
Documentaries from PBS
Documentaries from Netflix
11 great documentaries to watch during Women’s History Month
“Abolition. Feminism. Now.” by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth Richie
“Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay
“A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf
“Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics” by bell hooks
"Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny" by Kate Manne
“Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano
Women’s History Month book recommendations from Goodreads
31 books for March from the New York Public Library
20 books recommended by CNN
And don’t forget to buy your books from women-owned bookstores when possible!
What Makes Us Stronger features the voices of courageous women who have lived through war and conflict and examines how they found the strength and resilience to keep going
The Guilty Feminist explores the hypocrisies and insecurities that lie within us all, distilling the pressure to be the ‘perfect feminist’.
Call Your Girlfriend, hosted by Aminatou Sow, Anne Friedman and Gina Delvac, started as a way for long-distance friends to stay in touch and evolved into the exploration of politics, feminism, race and power.
Intersectionality Matters by Kimberlé Crenshaw explores intersectional theory.
I Weigh with Jameela Jamil features inspiring thought-leaders, performers, activists, influencers and friends, seeks to challenges the societal norms that might be holding us back, and celebrates progress, not perfection.
The Woman Who… is a new podcast narrated by Zawe Ashton and created by department store Fenwick. The series provides portraits of influential female trailblazers in the world of performing arts, music, fashion, literature, and more.
The History Chicks hosted by Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider discuss a influential female characters from history — factual and fictional
Whats her name is a podcast about remarkable women
More podcast recommendations from digitaltrends
23 podcasts that celebrate Women’s History from Bustle
Podcast recommendations from Women for Women International
4. Fight for equal pay / closing the gender gap
5. Learn & talk about the ongoing injustices that women face world-wide today
Globally women earn 24% less than men for doing the same work
Women pay more for the same items as men (see: the pink tax)
Women face hiring and workplace stigmas
Women are underrepresented in leadership, politics, and STEM careers
Women in Afghanistan currently live under a regime that has banned them from attending schools, taking jobs outside of the home, traveling without a male chaperone, leaving the house without a face covering, and so much more
Women in the United States are still fighting for bodily autonomy in 2023
6. Shop / support women-owned businesses
Goodgoodgood’s ultimate guide to ethical, sustainable, and do-good brands led by women
170+ women owned businesses to shop from NBC
Women Owned businesses in Columbus from Experience Columbus
Stock your office kitchen with women-owned brands (PopSugar, Taste of Home)
19 women-owned brands to discover now (& then shop forever) from theSkimm
7. Donate to a nonprofit
Malala Fund: Providing Girls Access to Quality Education
National Women’s Law Center: Legal Advocates Fighting for Gender Justice
Women for Women International: Supplying Tools of Empowerment to Women Survivors of War
Soroptimist / LiveYourDream.org is helping tens of thousands of women and girls across the globe achieve economic empowerment through education.
More nonprofits can be found here
8. Start a book club that centers books written by women
Business books by women
Must read books by women
9. Explore group activities that center women’s history and stories
Team building activities for the workplace
Check out Eventbrite for in-person and virtual events celebrating Women’s History Month
More events from Women’s History
Women in the (Good) News
38 Inspiring Women
An All-Women Coral Conservation Group Is Reviving Coral Reefs
Finally, Black Women Are Getting Credit For Starting The Nail Art Trend (right)
This Rural N.C. Farm Helps Formerly Incarcerated Women Build Back Their Lives
Meet The Immigrant Women Workers Disrupting The Cleaning Industry
Additional Resources and References to Explore
Thank you for recognizing Women's History Month. Honoring the experience of women - in the past and today - is crucial for any diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy in the workplace, and is necessary for those who are committed to creating a more equitable and inclusive environment. If you would like to explore additional ways to create a more robust and equitable culture at your company, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.