National Women’s History Month 2006

March 8 was first celebrated as International Women's Day in Europe, in 1911. In many European nations at that time, as well as in the United States, women’s rights were a political hot topic. However, the economic depression of the 1930s caused attention to women's rights to rapidly decrease.

The celebration of women's history, as we know it today, officially began in the 1970s, when there was a growing sense among women that "history," as taught in school, was incomplete in attending to "her story." In the United States, calls for inclusion of African Americans and Native Americans helped raise awareness that women were invisible in most history courses. So, in the 1970s, many universities began to include the field of women's history, as well as the broader field of women's studies.

In 1978, in California, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women began a "Women's History Week" celebration. The week was chosen to coincide with International Women's Day, March 8. Because the response was so positive, schools began to host their own Women's History Week programs.

In 1982, the United States Congress passed a resolution establishing National Women's History Week. Co-sponsors of the resolution — demonstrating bipartisan support — were Representative Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat and a Social Worker from Maryland and Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah; this led to even wider participation in Women's History Week. At the request of the National Women's History Project, Congress expanded National Women's History Week to an entire month.

In 1998, another nationally prominent social worker and NASW member joined congress and began to strongly advocate for women’s issues. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 9th Congressional District of California, is committed to working on and developing legislation related to national and global women’s issues, such as, health, equal rights and economic equality. Congresswoman Lee's willingness to stand on principle earned her international attention. In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with women from 150 countries as part of the international project, 1000 Women for Peace.

NASW has always supported women’s issues and is proud to recognize Women’s History Month. The NASW's National Committee on Women’s Issues develops, reviews and monitors programs of the Association that significantly affect women.