There is a common misconception that March’s designation as Women’s History Month commemorates a strike by female garment workers in New York City on March 8, 1857, or 1908. However, there is no record of such an event occurring in history.
Instead, a gathering of women suffragists and socialists in Manhattan in 1909 first celebrated International Women’s Day on February 28th. German activist Clara Zetkin proposed during an international conference of working women in Copenhagen that March 8 be observed as International Women’s Day, which all agreed upon.
Several European countries, including Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark, observed the first International Women’s Day on March 8, 1911. However, it did not become widely observed in the United States and other countries until the United Nations took over sponsorship of the event in 1975.
President Jimmy Carter announced that March 8 would mark the beginning of National Women’s History Week in March 1980. In 1987, the US Congress proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month, and it has been designated as such by every president since then.
The purpose of Women’s History Month is to bring attention to the contributions that women have made to culture and society, which are often overlooked. It is a month to celebrate and recognize the achievements of women throughout history.