NEW YORK—In 1978, in California, The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned the first-ever Women’s History Week, the National Museum of Women’s History reports. Organizers chose the week of March 8 to line up with International Women’s Day, an already established holiday, and, from there, the holiday grew. It was in 1981, according to the Library of Congress, that Congress first passed Pub. L. 97-28, which authorized and requested then-President Ronald Reagan to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to pass Pub. L. 100-9, which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Since then, U.S. Presidents have continued to issue annual proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month, celebrating the contributions women have made to the U.S. over the centuries.

In this year’s annual proclamation, President Biden wrote, “During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the courageous women who have helped our nation build a fairer, more just society.

“Throughout history, the vision and achievements of powerful women have strengthened our nation and opened the doors of opportunity wider for all of us. Though their stories too often go untold, all of us stand on the shoulders of these sung and unsung trailblazers—from the women who took a stand as suffragists, abolitionists, and labor leaders to pioneering scientists and engineers, groundbreaking artists, proud public servants, and brave members of our Armed Forces.

“This Women’s History Month, may we recognize the long, storied history of great women helping to realize our nation’s founding promise and highest aspirations. May we all continue working to build a world worthy of the dreams and goals of all women and girls,” President Biden wrote.

For 2024, the National Women’s History Alliance declared the National Women’s History Month theme as “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” an effort to recognize “women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.”

Now that we’re settling into the month of March, with International Women’s Day right around the corner on Friday, March 8, there are plenty of ways to get involved with celebrating Women’s History Month at a local level. The Library of Congress’ offers a wide range of resources for everyone who wants to celebrate this month, including a list of special events; special exhibits and collections; and audio and video recordings that discuss civil rights, culture, law, history, music and performing arts, poetry and literature, STEM, business and economics, art and more. 

The National Women’s History Alliance offers a 2024 Women’s History Month Toolkit that is free to download; it includes tips and tricks for involving local communities, students, families and more, from book club ideas to potential events. 

The U.S. National Archives also offers several resources in honor of Women’s History Month, including online exhibits, historical imagery and a helpful timeline of women’s history in the U.S. 

At home and at the office, celebrating Women’s History Month can be as easy as sparking conversations with patients and customers, or highlighting frames designed by women front and center on the wall. ECPs and their teams can get involved with the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) this month, study the contributions women have made to optometry over the years, or simply put together a simple social media graphic celebrating the impact of women in our industry.  

There are as many ways to celebrate Women’s History Month as there are days in March—and we’re only just getting started.