The month of March is designated as Women's History Month in the U.S. The purpose of the month long event commemorates and celebrates the vital role and contributions of women in American history. By extension Women's History Month also celebrates women internationally and their struggles to gain equal rights for themselves and other disenfranchised groups.
The National Women's History Project selected the theme for 2023, "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories," as a way to both honor "women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade."
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, standing, three-quarter length portrait, None. [Between 1880 and 1902] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/97500087/.
The 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, granting women the right to vote in federal elections. The struggle to gain voting rights began in 1848 and proceeded across many decades before being passed by the House of Representative and the Senate and ratified by the States. The struggle to the vote was one filled with civil disobedience, violence, and political dissension.
It was also a global struggle with women around the world seeking to be franchised and to have a voice. The United Kingdom faced similar actions by women and their supporters, ultimately gaining their right to vote in 1928. The British Suffergettes served as models for the women's movement in the U.S.
Women's History Month originated in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law Pub. L. 97-28, authorizing then President Ronald Reagan to proclaim the week beginning March 7th as Women's History Week. For the next 5 years, Congress passed joint resolutions to designate a week in March to recognized the contributions of women to U.S. social, economic, industrial and cultural growth.
In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress passed Public Law Pub. L. 100-9 designating the month of March as Women's History Month. Beginning with President Ronald Reagan each of the succeeding Presidents issued Presidential Proclamations celebrating women who have contributed to U.S. history, including Harriet Tubman, Nellie Bly, Rachel Carson, and Amelia Earhardt.