Photo courtesy of Luciana Leite
International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, was founded in 1975 and officially recognized by the UN member states in 1977. While it is first and foremost a celebration of the social, political, economic, and cultural gains made by women around the world, IWD also serves to bring attention to necessary progress and reforms that still need to be made—of which there are many.
That’s a lot of ground to cover in 24 hours, and the latter half can be both overwhelming and depressing, which is why we’ve bitten off 20 manageable ways for you to celebrate women and IWD on the day of and every day for the foreseeable future.
20 ways to celebrate International Women’s Day
Educate others and be open to starting tough conversations
It can be hard to have conversations with people whose views conflict with our own, especially in the workplace. For example, if a manager decides not to let a qualified woman employee lead a project because “she might be uncomfortable taking the lead” and then recommends handing the project off to a man with the same skill set, speak up. Gender (or any demographics, really) should not negatively impact advancement and opportunity.
Read more: Where Sexism Hides in the Workplace
Find a way to uplift another woman at work
Maybe Rachel is having a particularly rough day at the office, or Emma is super nervous for a presentation this afternoon. Send your female colleagues a reminder that they are capable and powerful. You’ll make them smile and encourage them to pay it forward.
Donate to an organization that supports women—especially women in need
You can find organizations that support pretty much any and every woman-related cause you value. Some meaningful ones are School Girls Unite (addresses barriers and stigmas to educating women around the world), Women For Women International (supports women who are survivors of war), the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (creates economic, social, and political programs to reduce gender inequality), and Lily Pad Haven (provides transitional housing to victims of human trafficking). Brownie points for encouraging other women to do the same!
Take a few minutes to acknowledge the awesome women in your life
Your best friend, mother, aunt, and cousin deserve to know how they impact your life. Send them a heartfelt text, a bouquet of flowers, or a care package to show them your appreciation. Without women to raise us and support us, who knows where we’d be?
Listen to a women-led podcast
Awesome women entrepreneurs, activists, feminists, and execs use podcasts to give other women tips on life, love, and ambitions. They’re super entertaining, filled with witty repartee, and can spice up your commute to work or desk lunch break. Here are a few of our favorites:
Schedule a lunch with all the gals at the office
There are definitely some women at the office you don’t know very well. Get a group together and go out to lunch so you can celebrate all of you. An added bonus? Women with a strong network of professional women are shown to be more successful than other women. Win-win.
Use social media to talk about women
Tons of IWD posts circle Instagram and Facebook every year—and we love that. But it shouldn’t happen just once a year. Use social media to share stories about yourself, women in your life, and women who inspire you. We could all use the daily boost, and everyone needs to see how amazing women can be.
Get the pre-work fancy Starbucks drink or the massage your shoulders need, or take yourself to a movie. Women balance a lot every day, yourself included! Give yourself a break.
Learn about a new powerful woman every day
Plenty of organizations spotlight women for IWD and Women’s History Month (InHerSight included!), but you can make that trend your own by resolving to learn about a new badass woman every day. Here are a few to get you started:
Attend a women’s networking event
Advance your career and recenter your life while being surrounded by like-minded women. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, choose a women-centered networking event to attend to help you tackle your personal and professional goals—and maybe even travel to a cool conference destination. What happens in Vegas? Empowerment.
Promote women in your workplace
At InHerSight, we have a rotating board of quotes from inspiring women. Decoration, even seasonally, is one kind of workplace promotion. But you can also invite female guest speakers (or even a panel) to give talks during lunch, or you can start women’s support and networking groups in the office—A+ for gender-inclusive ally groups. Especially within the context of the workplace, finding ways to recognize the role women play in our world is integral to keeping women’s issues, which could be bettered through corporate policies, top of mind.
Learn the ins and outs of women’s rights
Women’s rights are human rights. That’s it. That’s the tweet. Yet unfortunately, many people, whether because of ignorance, sexism, or power, or a combination of the three, don’t believe ensuring women are treated equally is that big of a deal. To get the international scope of IWD, educate yourself on where these gaps in, um, empathy exist: Is it equal pay? Is it gender roles? What about opportunity? What about everything?
Gossip so rarely captures the whole story—especially in regards to women. Honor your fellow ladies in arms by learning how to gossip well. During watercooler chatter, ask yourself questions like “Was she being difficult or was the situation difficult? Challenge how people define “difficult,” and other words they used to describe women.
Read a book written by a woman
Most people wish they had the time to read more but still can’t find the time to do so. Give that time back to yourself by deciding you—or your office book club— will read at least one book written by a contemporary or historical woman author this quarter. Even a chapter at lunch is better than nothing.
On too many occasions, women are faced with condensation and mansplaining. Not only is this simply not acceptable, it deserves to be resisted. If you’re ever in a position where a comment like this is made, firmly stand your ground and correct the person who said it. On IWD and otherwise.
Support women in the arts
Women artists always deserve support, and IWD is a great opportunity to show some! Visit a local gallery, screen a movie directed by a woman, or buy handmade jewelry pieces from a woman entrepreneur to cheer them on.
Cook a meal for a loved one!
The cookbook Share was created by Women for Women International, the nonprofit that supports women impacted by war. One-hundred percent of the proceeds go straight to the organization, and the recipes the book contains were collected from famous chefs, humanitarians, and women in recipient countries. Support the organization and women in need by picking up a copy—you’ll get a great meal out of it too.
Wear purple. Everything purple
Fun fact, purple is the official color of IWD because it was closely associated with the suffrage movement of the early 1900s. Wear purple on purple on purple, and encourage all your friends to do the same!
Share the song “One Woman: A Song For UN Women”
This beautiful song is totally moving and encapsulates the kinds of women we try to honor on IWD. Featuring singers from Malaysia, Costa Rica, Mali, China, America, and more, “One Woman” is a call to action that promotes gender equality. It was originally performed at the UN General Assembly in 2011.
Teach younger girls about women’s rights and celebrate IWD with them
This one speaks for itself. Teach all the younger girls in your life about the amazing things that come with being a woman. Teach them the importance of solidarity, the need to empower women, and the strength to fight for change.