The official world competition was first held in 1990. In 1995 and 1996, in lieu of the world championship, the IIHF Women's Pacific Rim Championship or European Championships were held. As part of an effort to improve competition, the IIHF decided to hold Women's Championships in Olympic years, starting in 2014, but not at the top level.
At most IIHF events, the tournament directorate awards the best forward, best defenceman, best goaltender and most valuable player of each tournament. at the women's event, these awards have been handed out in some combination since the first tournament, with the exception of 1997, and the cancelled tournament in 2003.