Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Content starts here


March is Women's History Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the significant yet often overlooked contributions of women throughout history. In fields such as science, business, politics, the arts, and beyond, women have served as leaders, inventors, creators, and more, even when archaic laws and practices made it difficult to do so.

The origins of Women's History Month can be traced back to the early 20th century, when women began advocating for recognition of their achievements and contributions. The movement gained momentum when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week, coinciding with International Women's Day. By 1987, Congress extended the observance to the entire month of March, creating Women's History Month to celebrate women's contributions and address challenges like gender discrimination, wage inequality, and limited access to healthcare and education.

Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus: A pioneer in volunteering

One woman who made an extraordinary contribution to the country and to older Americans is AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.

After retiring to care for her aging mother, Dr. Andrus volunteered with the California Retired Teachers Association. Her volunteer work exposed her to teachers grappling with the challenges of inflation and escalating healthcare costs, leading to pensions that no longer covered their basic needs. The turning point came when she encountered a former teacher living in a backyard chicken coop due to insufficient income for proper housing. Confronted with this stark situation, she knew she had to do something.

That "something" was the establishment of the National Retired Teachers Association in 1947. Dr. Andrus's goal was to create an affordable group health insurance policy for retired teachers. However, most insurance companies deemed the venture too risky, and she was rejected by 42 companies before finding one willing to underwrite the policies. Soon, her organization was inundated with requests from non-educators eager to purchase the plan. Dr. Andrus's organization evolved into what we know today as AARP.

Honoring Women Through Volunteerism

Women's History Month offers several opportunities to honor and celebrate women's contributions by volunteering. If you are seeking inspiration, here are several ways your time and talent can make a difference.

Mentorship, leadership, and support programs: Various businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations sponsor mentoring and leadership development programs. Volunteering as a mentor for women, young women, and girls allows you to offer guidance, support, and encouragement as they progress through their academic and professional journeys. Organizations like Lean In, Woman to Woman Mentoring, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls Inc., and Black Girls Code provide opportunities that significantly impact the lives of women and girls. For those interested in connecting with other women, consider starting or joining the Ethel Circle, a private Facebook group dedicated to women supporting women.

Women's shelters and support centers: Support women who have experienced abuse or trauma by volunteering at women's shelters, crisis centers, or organizations dedicated to assisting survivors of  domestic violence or sexual assault. You can offer emotional support, assist in distributing resources, and help to create safe and empowering environments.

Women’s history initiatives: Women's History Month is the perfect occasion to highlight women's significant contributions. Look for historical societies, museums, or archives focused on preserving and promoting women's history and heritage.  Groups such as the National Women’s History Alliance, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and local historical societies need volunteers. Your role may involve assisting with research, cataloging, and digitization efforts to ensure that the stories and contributions of women are documented and accessible for future generations.

Your community: Participate in community service projects aimed at benefiting women and girls, such as organizing donation drives for menstrual hygiene products, toiletries, and clothing. Partner with local nonprofits and service organizations to address specific needs and support initiatives that uplift and empower women in your own community.

Looking for more volunteer opportunities? Find them at

Share This Article