21 Fascinating Facts to Celebrate Women's History Month (2023)

As recent years have painfully indicated, inequality and sexism is still very much alive and prevalent in the United States (as well as the rest of the world). In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 42% of women said they'd experienced gender discrimination at work. They also face the "motherhood penalty," in which women earn less money after they become mothers while men who become fathers actually earn more. These prevailing inequities are exactly why Women's History Month, which is recognized in March, matters so much. Sharing Women's History Month facts and the stories of historic women isn't trivial — it helps celebrate those women who paved the way, and those who are fighting for and representing women now.

In 2020, women lost a champion: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In her time as an attorney, she argued cases that continue to protect women from discrimination today. She also helped in the fight for equal pay and voted in favor of marriage equality.

She was also famous for her fiery spirit. In a 2015 interview with PBS, she said, "When I'm sometimes asked, 'When will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court)?' and my answer is: 'When there are nine.' People are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."

Women’s History Month isn’t perfect. Professor Kimberly A. Hamlin argued in a Washington Post op-ed that when men make history, it’s just called “history.” But when women make history, it’s “women’s history.” It’s a fair point to keep in mind, now and especially as the country moves forward to a more equitable tomorrow. The below facts about women’s history and contributions of women aren’t historic just for women — they’re historic for everyone.

Here are 21 facts about women’s history for Women’s History Month.

21 Fascinating Facts to Celebrate Women's History Month (1)

Women’s Suffrage Group, Steps of U.S. Capitol Building, Washington DC, USA, Harris & Ewing, 1919

1. The first Women's History Day was held in 1909.

February 28, 1909 marked the first Woman's History Day in New York City. It commemorated the one-year anniversary of the garment workers' strikes when 15,000 women marched through lower Manhattan. From 1909 to 1910, immigrant women who worked in garment factories held a strike to protest their working conditions. Most of them were teen girls who worked 12-hour days. In one factory, Triangle Shirtwaist Company, employees were paid only $15 a week. History.com describes it as a "true sweatshop." Young women worked in tight conditions at sewing machines, and the factories' owners didn't keep the factory up to safety standards. In 1911, the factory burned down and 145 workers were killed. It pushed lawmakers to finally pass legislation meant to protect factory workers.

2. The day became Women's History Week in 1978.

An education task force in Sonoma County, California kicked off Women's History Week in 1978 on March 8, International Women's Day, according to the National Women's History Alliance. They wanted to draw attention to the fact that women's history wasn't really included in K-12 school curriculums at the time.

3. In 1987, it became Women's History Month.

Women's organizations, including the National Women's History Alliance, campaigned yearly to recognize Women's History Week. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 Women's History Week across the country. By 1986, 14 states had declared the entire month of March Women's History Month, according to the Alliance. The following year, in March of 1987, activists were successful: They lobbied Congress to declare March Women's History Month.

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4. The president declares every March Women's History Month.

Since 1995, every president has issued a proclamation declaring March Women's History Month, usually with a statement about its importance.

5. Every Women's History Month has a theme.

The 2020 theme was “Valiant Women of the Vote" and honored women from the original suffrage movement, as well as women who continued the struggle in the 20th and 21st century, in recognition of the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Due to the pandemic, this theme was extended into 2021 and renamed as: “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.” The 2022 theme is "Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope," according to the National Women's History Alliance. This theme not only honors the tireless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also women of all backgrounds who have provided compassionate healing and hope for the betterment of patients, friends, and family.

6. Wyoming Territory was the first place to grant women the right to vote.

The Wyoming Territorial legislature gave every woman the right to vote in 1869, according to History.com. They elected the country's first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, in 1924.

7. The 19th amendment didn't give all women the right to vote.

The 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was signed into law on August 26, 1920. But at the time, a number of other laws prohibited Native American women, Black women, Asian American women, and Latinx women from voting, among others. It wasn't until 1924 that Native women born in the United States were granted citizenship, allowing them to vote, according to PBS. But even after that, Native women and other women of color were prevented from voting by state laws such as poll taxes and literacy tests. It wasn't until 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, that discriminatory tactics such as literacy tests were outlawed, and all women could vote.

21 Fascinating Facts to Celebrate Women's History Month (3)

Women and family members of women who were involved in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott before or along with Rosa Parks. Before Rosa Parks repeated the act, Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama when she was 15 years old. (Photo by Dudley M. Brooks/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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8. Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat 9 months before Rosa Parks did.

Rosa Parks' contributions to the Civil Rights Movement are undeniable. But nine months before she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin did the same thing on the same bus system. But Colvin isn't widely recognized for her act. On March 2, 1955, the day she was arrested, she had been learning about Black history at her school. "My head was just too full of black history, you know, the oppression that we went through," she told NPR in 2009. "It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn't get up."

She was one of the plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, the case that ended up overturning bus segregation laws in Montgomery.

9. Geraldyn "Jerrie" Cobb was the first woman to pass astronaut testing in 1961.

But she wasn't allowed to travel to space due to her gender. She testified on Capitol Hill in 1962, saying, “We women pilots who want to be part of the research and participation in space exploration are not trying to join a battle of the sexes,” according to the New York Times. “We see, only, a place in our nation’s space future without discrimination.”

However, John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, opposed her. He said "it is just a fact" that women don't do certain things that men do, such as go to war and fly airplanes. “The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order,” he said.

10. About 20 years later, Sally Ride was the first woman in space — and the first gay astronaut.

Sally Ride became the first woman in space on June 18, 1983, when she flew on the space shuttle Challenger. It wasn't until her death that her obituary revealed she was gay; it referred to Tam O'Shaughnessy as her "partner of 27 years."

11. Women couldn't get credit cards on their own until 1974.

Until Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, women couldn't get credit cards in their own name. Often, they had to bring a man along to cosign for them, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Legal work done by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laid the foundation for the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as well as many other basic rights women have today, including the ability to attend state-funded schools, protection from pregnancy discrimination at work, and the ability to serve on juries, according to USA Today.

12. Women make up 27 percent of Congress.

One-hundred and forty-five women serve in the United States Congress out of 535 total members. Though the number of women representatives continues to rise, it's important to keep in mind that the United States population is 50.8 percent female, according to Census data.

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13. Women outnumber men as they get older.

Women age 85 and older outnumber men by about 2 to 1, according to Census data from 2019. That's about 4.2 million women to 2.4 million men in the United States.

14. More women are earning college degrees than men.

Women are outnumbering men in earning postsecondary degrees. According to 2021 data from the Education Data Initiative, 59% of women continued their education after high school, compared to 50% of men.

15. The gender pay gap still persists.

Despite the ever-growing number of women getting degrees, the gender pay gap has narrowed by less than half a cent per year since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, according to Forbes.com. Women are paid 82 cents for every dollar that a man makes, with that gap widening even more for women of color, according to 2020 data by the National Women's Law Center.

16. Women make up 14 percent of active duty military members.

Women also make up 23% of officers in the Coast Guard. In January 2013, the U.S. government lifted its ban on women serving in combat positions.

21 Fascinating Facts to Celebrate Women's History Month (5)

Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867 - 1934) in her laboratory. She shared a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband Pierre for their work in radioactivity. In 1911 she became one of the few people to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry for her discovery of polonium and radium. Her daughter and son-in-law also shared a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for work in radioactive materials. He went on to become the first chairman of the French atomic energy commission. France.

17. Marie Curie was the first woman to receive two Nobel prizes.

Curie was a scientist whose research on radioactivity led her to discover two new elements. She also researched the atom, and her findings have been integral in scientific advancements related to atomic bombs and medicine, according to Scientific American. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as well as the first person and only woman to win two Nobel Prizes. She won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 and the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911.

18. Eleanor Roosevelt held all-woman press conferences.

The First Lady held the first press conference for women reporters on March 6, 1933. She would cover issues “of special interest and value to the women of the country,” according to the National Women's History Museum. Over the next 12 years she held 348 press conferences for women reporters.

19. In 2021, 57.8 percent of all women participated in the labor force.

And nearly a million women returned to the workforce in 2021, compared to 666,000 men. According to the 19th, 3.3 million of all the jobs added to the economy went to women, while 3.1 million went to men. This, however, should not overlook the jobs women, in particular women of color, lost during the pandemic when responsibilities such as childcare often fell on their shoulders.

20. Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Known as the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She's known for her rendition of Otis Redding's "RESPECT," and songs of her own like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." She was also involved in civil rights activism, and performed at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

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21 Fascinating Facts to Celebrate Women's History Month (6)

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the stage before President-elect Biden addresses the nation from the Chase Center November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

21. Kamala Harris is the first woman and woman of color vice president.

After winning the 2020 presidential election with Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris is making history as the first woman, first Black woman, and first Asian American vice president in U.S. history.

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Did You Know Facts About women's Day? ›

International Women's Day was adopted by The United Nations and it is celebrated on 8th March. Disposable diapers, non-reflective glass, paper bags, dishwasher, and the foot-pedal trashcan, were invented by women. Heels were initially worn by man to emphasize their masculinity and women wore them in 1600 to mimic them.

What is the most important thing about women's history month? ›

Why do we celebrate Women's History Month? We celebrate Women's History Month to remind ourselves of the accomplishments of women throughout the years to our culture and society. From science to politics, it's is a chance to reflect on the trailblazing women who lead the way for change.

What is special about women's month? ›

Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women's History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of ...

What is the 2022 women's history month theme? ›

2022 Theme: Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.

What are the amazing facts? ›

The 60 Most Interesting World Facts You'll Ever Hear
  • Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. ...
  • The fastest gust of wind ever recorded on Earth was 253 miles per hour. ...
  • Recent droughts in Europe were the worst in 2,100 years. ...
  • The best place in the world to see rainbows is in Hawaii.

What is the Colour of women's day 2022? ›

Today, purple is the colour of International Women's Day, and combined with green represents the feminist movement.

Who is the most famous female in history? ›

Virgin Mary, 1st-century BC–1st-century AD. The mother of Jesus, Mary is venerated by both Christians and Muslims, and is probably the most famous woman in history.

What are the colors for Women's history month? ›

What colors symbolize International Women's Day? Purple, green and white are the colors of International Women's Day. Purple signifies justice and dignity.

Who invented women's history month? ›

The month of March has been designated by presidential proclamation to honor women's contributions to American history. The national month of recognition was instituted by President Jimmy Carter.

Why is women's history important? ›

For girls, knowing women's achievements expands their sense of what is possible. For all of us, knowledge of women's strengths and contributions builds respect and nourishes self esteem — crucial to all children and adults now, and in the years to come. Educators are willing, often eager, to introduce women's history.

How do you honor women's history month? ›

15 Ways to Celebrate Women's History Month 2022
  1. Explore the history of women's rights. ...
  2. Be aware of issues women still face today. ...
  3. Download the Feminist Activist Toolkit. ...
  4. Post on social media to spread awareness of Women's History Month. ...
  5. Support a women's nonprofit. ...
  6. Host an event to celebrate women.
1 Mar 2022

Who was an important in women's history? ›

Women's History

From raising families to leading armies, women such as Catherine the Great, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Elizabeth I, Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie and countless others have played a vital role in human civilization.

How is women's day celebrated today? ›

On the social side, women party it up and head out to celebrate womanhood. Special deals are available for ladies at restaurants, cafes, and some stores even have sales. Female activists also utilize the day to promote gender equality and advance women's rights.

Did you know International Womens Day? ›

8 March is International Women's Day - devoted to celebrating the achievements of women and seeking gender equality. The theme this year is #BreaktheBias - and campaigners are urging people to call out gender stereotyping and discrimination when they see it.

Why do we celebrate women's Day? ›

International Women's Day is commemorated in a variety of ways worldwide; it is a public holiday in several countries, and observed socially or locally in others to celebrate and promote the achievements of women. The UN observes the holiday in connection with a particular issue, campaign, or theme in women's rights.

What is the history behind International women's Day? ›

At the International Women's Conference, which preceded the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen in August 1910, leading German socialists Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin proposed the establishment of an annual International Woman's Day as a strategy to promote equal rights, including ...

What is women's Day South Africa? ›

In South Africa, August is Women's Month - and each year August 9th is celebrated as National Women's Day. National Women's Day celebrates the strength and resilience of women and their contribution to society and country.


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