Women's History Month, which begins on March 1, celebrates the many contributions of women to society. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai is pictured here delivering a speech in Oslo December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The United States celebrates Women’s History Month in March in order to highlight and celebrate the many historic and contemporary contributions of women to society. While the commemoration has its roots back in the 1800s when female factory workers in New York City staged protests over working conditions, Congress only established Women’s History Month in 1987, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Last year, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation saying that “during Women's History Month, we recognize the victories, struggles, and stories of the women who have made our country what it is today." In honor of the occasion, the following are 21 inspiring quotes by influential women:

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” -- Maya Angelou

”I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.” -- Malala Yousafzai

“Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.” -- Oprah Winfrey

“I do know one thing about me: I don't measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth.” -- Sonia Sotomayor

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” -- Margaret Atwood

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” -- Rosa Parks

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” -- Marie Curie

“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.” -- Michelle Obama

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” -- Mother Teresa

“I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings.” -- Margaret Mead

“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

“Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.” -- J.K. Rowling

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” -- Frida Kahlo

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” -- Toni Morrison

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -- Anne Frank

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -- Edith Wharton

“So if diva means giving your best, then yes, I guess I am a diva.” -- Patti LaBelle

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!” -- Audrey Hepburn

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” -- Gertrude Stein

“I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.” -- Lucille Ball