Women’s History Month honors and celebrates the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. As in other commemorative observation pages, the Law Library of Congress highlights the legal aspects of Women’s History Month on our website.
The origins of Women’s History Month date back to 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which requested and authorized the president to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated March of that year as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.
Since 1995, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” President Obama issued his 2011 Proclamation on February 28, 2011. To mark the first day of Women’s History Month this year, the White House released the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963. The report is entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being and is a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time.
In addition, March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. I happened to be visiting Italy during this day in 2004 and was handed a yellow flower while walking down the street. I later learned that in Italy the tradition is for men to give women yellow mimosas.