10 actionable ways to honor women this Women's History Month

Celebrate women today and always with these Women's History Month ideas

Women's History Month
(Image credit: Getty)

In our house, every month is Women's History Month. But March is always a welcome reminder to pause all of our usual daily hustle-and-bustle and really put our time and efforts in advocating for and celebrating the women around us and across the globe. 

For some, Women's History Month is a time for protest; to others, it is a time of celebration. To us, it is an amalgamation of both: a period for real, tangible activism and allyship, as well as a fun moment to toss a little confetti, crank up the Beyoncé, and rejoice in all of the incredible accomplishments of women around the world.

  • She did it first: 20 women who set records, made history and changed the world in 2020

Of course, those achievements cannot be contained to one solitary, dedicated month. Instead, we carry the history of all the women who came before us every single day, and work to make them and those that will follow proud. So whether you want to shop at fashion brands founded by women, host a movie night spotlighting women directors like Chloé Zhao, or gift some self-care to the woman close to you (or treat yourself!), here are 10 great ways to commemorate Women's History Month this year. 

What is Women's History Month?

Women’s History Month is a month dedicated to "commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history." From Susan B. Anthony to Rosa Parks, women's history is woven tightly with American history, and was a sparkplug for many civil rights movements across this country. 

When is Women's History Month

Women are vital all year long, so why is Women's History Month celebrated in March specifically? Well first, we have to go back to the origins of International Women's Day—then called National Woman's Day, the earliest Women's Day observance took place on February 28th, 1909 in New York City, as a commemoration conceived by labor activist Theresa Malkiel and organized by the Socialist Party of America.  

The commemoration continued to be picked up by predominantly socialist and communist movements across the world, with Germany notably moving the celebration day to March 8th in 1914. The United Nations officially began observing the day in 1977. 

A formally observed day was stretched into a week in the U.S. in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter designated the first official National Women's History Week, beginning on March 8 of that year. With school districts and local governments diving more deeply into women-focused syllabus and social issues, as well as steadfast petitioning from the National Women's History Project, that dedicated week soon became an entire month. Congress declared March 1987 as the first official Women's History Month and since 1995, U.S. presidents have issued official proclamations designating March as Women's History Month every year.

What is the theme of Women's History Month?

Every year, the National Women's History Alliance designates an annual theme for Women's History Month. Since 2020 was such a dumpster fire of a year, many of the women's suffrage centennial celebrations had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of those cancellations, the org has decided to extend the 2020 theme of "Valiant Women for the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced" for the 2021 celebrations.

The theme focuses on the fight for women's suffrage, or the right to vote in elections, a right that was granted with the passing of the 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1920. Suffrage movements erupted across the world in the 20th century, with women holding protests, signing petitions, and coordinating efforts to gain equal civil rights.

How to celebrate Women's History Month:

Happy women shouting for equal rights while marching together

(Image credit: Getty)

Dive into the history of women's rights

March marks Women's History Month in the U.S., and its origins fittingly are rooted in education: in 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women first organized a local Women's History Week program with the goal of “writing women back into history.” 

Honor those origins by giving yourself a crash course on women's history through eye-opening resources like the digital archives and exhibits at the National Women's History Museum, which features biographies, photos, drawings and more of both historical and contemporary women pioneers, from abolitionist Harriet Tubman to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to filmmaker Ava DuVernay. 

Shop at women-fronted brands

Let's be real, we're always stocking up on new skincare products, fashion pieces, and home goods anyway. So shopping female-fronted brands is a smooth and seamless way of celebrating Women's History Month while giving your clothes closet,  beauty vanity, and the rest of your home a stylish boost. 

For a one-stop shop this month, Pinterest will be spotlighting women-owned small businesses across home, fashion, beauty, and food on The Pinterest Shop for all of March. Among the 25-plus female-fronted brands featured are Darling Spring decor objects, Live Tinted "huesticks", Diaspora Spice Co. seasonings, and Aperçu sunglasses. 

Amplify your bi, lesbian, and trans sisters

proud woman with her gay pride flag on a bridge

(Image credit: Getty)

Let's remember, Women's History Month is for all women. Take the month as an opportunity to actively listen to and advocate for lesbian, bisexual and trans women—women who historically have been silenced due to social stigma and daily discrimination.

And while you're at it, seek out resources and organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective, Incite!, The Trevor Project, For the Gworls, the Bisexual Resource Center, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and more to see how you can better support your LGBTQ+ siblings. 

Study up on legislation that affects women

From period poverty to maternal mortality, the gender pay gap to mental health issues, if you're not super well-versed in a particular issue that's currently affecting women, now's your chance!

Use Women's History Month as a period of intentional self-schooling. Read up on current legislation pertaining to issues like healthcare access, hair discrimination, and the state-by-state battle to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's ruling guaranteeing constitutional protection around a woman's right to choose. 

Once you've pored over the pages, put your newfound knowledge to the test by calling your reps and demanding change!

Find a female-focused cause that you're interested in and throw some much-welcome funds behind them. Passionate about healthcare? Check out the Black Women's Health Imperative. Want to boost tech education for young women? Girls Who Code is for you. Looking to support women suffering from the aftereffects of war and civil strife? Women for Women International provides practical and moral support to female survivors of war.

Watch shows and movies created by women

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke in Firefly Lane on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

It's been a big year for movies by female directors—three woman-directed films were up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes 2021, the most ever in the category, and Chloé Zhao's Nomadland ended up taking the top honor. Other female-fronted movies to catch up on are Radha Blank's The Forty-Year Old Version, Eliza Hittman's Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman. 

And television wasn't slacking either: Women-created TV series including Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You, Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble's I Hate Suzie, and Maggie Friedman's Firefly Lane should be added to your watch list ASAP. 

Add women authors to your reading list

Looking for your next page turner? Women authors wrote some seriously great reads in the past year, so give your weekly Zoom book club an upgrade with some of our favorite recent female-penned titles. We recommend Aftershocks: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu; Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion; Biography of a Body by Lizz Schumer; and White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck. 

Devote your time at a women's shelter 

Whether it's preparing dinners, helping with laundry, organizing donated items, or providing childcare, there are numerous volunteer opportunities to offer physical support to your local women's shelters and clinics.

However, due to the pandemic, shelters in some areas of the country have had to suspend in-person volunteering. But that doesn't mean you can't still show your support: you can host a virtual fundraiser or donation drive; do a socially-distanced drop-off of clothes, good and hygiene kits; do one-on-one virtual tutoring; and spread awareness by sharing across your social media channels. 

Dive into documentaries of famous women

What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Have yourself an at-home documentary festival by watching docs centered on trailblazing woman throughout Women's History Month.

Some of our favorite female-centered docs? RBG; What Happened, Miss Simone?; Gloria: In Her Own Words; Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold; Maya Angelou And Still I Rise; Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed; and Varda by Agnès all make for inspirational viewings. 

Schedule a self care sesh for you or a friend

Dismantling the patriarchy and advocating for women's rights is hard work, and we consider self care a radical way to get recharged and rejuvenated for the fight ahead. Gift yourself a self care day by scheduling a long, luxurious bath (break out those bath bombs!) or a deep journaling session, doing a homemade face mask, or picking up a bouquet of flowers to freshen your space.

You can also extend those good, indulgent vibes by creating a care package for a woman in your life. Some sweet goodies, a crystals for beginners guide, and the best scented candles around are just a few things that'll show how much you appreciate the strong women in your life. 

Christina Izzo
Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Assistant Managing Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.