What’s the Difference Between Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day?
Learn More and Get Teaching Resources Below!
History of the Celebrations
It’s not just a difference in geography. International Women’s Day (IWD) was launched as a global advocacy and visibility initiative in the early 20th century focusing on women’s rights, such as suffrage, equality, labor rights, and safety. First officially celebrated in 1911, it gained momentum after tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, which killed 146 young workers, most of whom were women and girls.
The day of recognition was largely forgotten about in the mainstream for decades until it was revitalized by the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s, the National Women’s History Alliance (then called The Women’s History Project), advocated for an expanded “Month” of recognition in the U.S. as part of their mission to “Write Women Back into History.” They focused on achievements of women and offered curated materials, like posters, articles, microfiche, book lists, and more on accomplishments of women.
Today, IWD is more focused on civics: advocacy, equity, and concrete action. Women’s History Month is a time to learn more about the impact of women throughout our history and in today’s world, focused on accomplishments in science, politics, education, business, arts, culture, and more.
This year’s theme of IWD is “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” highlighting gender gaps in STEM education and careers, online digital safety, and power of tech in empowering marginalized groups. The theme for the 2023 Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Stories,” highlighting women who have used their voice and creativity to share stories that educate, inspire and entertain individuals.
Here are some resources to learn more about this month of recognition:
- Get started with National Geographic and the Federal government’s Women’s History Month website which has an excellent video archive and teacher resources.
- Plan a virtual field trip: the National Women’s History Museum offers personalized virtual “field trips” to homeschool and youth groups of 10 or more people. The Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum has online materials broken down by learner levels.
- Always a great resource on inclusive U.S. History, the Zinn Education Project, offers lesson plans on women’s history including this lesson on how a 1st grade teacher taught the 1908 Textile strike and women’s labor rights to younger learners.
- Learn more about how women in our communities with many lived experiences have influenced our world such as this article from Yes! Magazine “10 Black Women Innovators and the Awesome Things They Brought Us!” and Teen Vogue’s “Four Asian American Women Who Changed History“. Listen to the first-person stories of women from all walks of life (not just the famous ones!) at StoryCore. Get tips on teaching Women’s History – and ALL history – from an inclusive, diverse perspective at the Resilient Educator.
Learn more about the National Child Labor Committee, which worked on issues related to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the 19th Amendment, and groundbreaking women in our History Quest: United States book. And support STEM education with our R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey series!