March is the month dedicated to acknowledging the presence of women in history, with International Women's Day falling on the 8th. It is a perfect way to highlight and celebrate the great achievements of women both throughout history and in contemporary society. With the month coming to an end very soon, I wanted to trace back to how it all began.

Before women had a month or a week marking their achievements, they only had a day. The first ever Women’s Day took place on Feb. 28, 1909, in New York City, as a national observance organized by their Socialist Party. It was put in place to honour the garment workers' strikes that had taken place a year before. Within two years, Women’s Day had become international and the concept had spread throughout Europe. 

However, the women in America were not satisfied with just a day recognizing the part they'd played in history. In the late 1970s, activists wanted there to be a Women's History Week, the idea stemming from the fact that many history textbooks in the school curriculum left out the contributions women had made to benefit and further the progress of the USA. Their plan was to have the week around International Women's Day, which the United Nations had officially started marking in 1975. 

The week started to become a real event in some areas-over one hundred community women participated by doing presentations in classrooms across towns, and a “Real Woman” essay contest took place and drew hundreds of entries. The end of the week culminated with a parade held in downtown Santa Rosa, California.

The week's successes spread when in 1979, Molly Murphy Macgregor, one of the week’s organizers, travelled to Sarah Lawrence College in New York for a conference with the Women’s History Institute. When they learnt about the triumphs of the history week, they agreed to support the initiative and news of the event circulated around the country gathering momentum. Soon after, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first formal national Women’s History Week from March 2-8, 1980.

When President Ronald Reagan came into office, he passed further proclamations announcing Women's History Weeks and in 1987 Congress passed a decree establishing Women's History Month!

Women's History Month is truly a great time to honour all of the accomplished and esteemed women who have helped pave the path for our future and remember how they faced their struggles and got through them. As Gerda Lerner, the chair of the Women's History Institute in 1979 said, "Women’s history is women’s right—an essential, indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision".