Women’s History Month, now celebrated annually in the United States, grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1979. The idea quickly caught on within communities, schools and organizations across the country. In 1981, the U.S. Congress made it official, passing a resolution establishing Women’s History Week. Six years later, the event was expanded into the entire month of March.
Each year, the National Women’s History Project selects a theme that highlights achievements by distinguished women in specific fields, from medicine and the environment to art and politics. The 2010 theme, “Writing Women Back into History,” commemorates the project’s 30th anniversary and recognizes efforts to document women’s accomplishments and experiences in textbooks and other educational materials.
Women’s History Month coincides with International Women’s Day, which many countries celebrate every March 8 with demonstrations, educational initiatives and customs such as offering gifts and flowers. The United Nations has sponsored the holiday since 1975.