Happy International Women’s Day. I’m so excited about this day because it gives us a chance to recognize and celebrate women worldwide. The day is dedicated to celebrating the achievements and contributions of women worldwide. This year’s theme is #embraceequity. More on that in a moment. Let’s start with some history.
How did International Women's Day start?
International Women’s Day has its roots in the labor movement. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States in 1909, following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The day was celebrated on the last Sunday of February and was meant to honor the one-year anniversary of a garment workers’ strike in New York City.
In 1910, at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, Clara Zetkin, a German feminist, proposed that a day be set aside each year to celebrate women's contributions to society and to advocate for women's rights. The proposal was unanimously adopted, and the first International Women's Day was celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
Since then, International Women's Day has been celebrated annually on March 8th, and the day has become a global celebration of women's achievements and a call to action for gender equality.
Why is International Women's Day important?
International Women's Day is a time to celebrate the progress that has been made toward gender equality and to acknowledge the work that still needs to be done. It is a day to recognize the strength, resilience, and achievements of women around the world and to work towards creating a more equal and just society for all.
In many parts of the world, women still don’t have access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, and the right to vote. They also face a higher risk of poverty, violence, and exploitation. Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace, in education, and in their personal lives. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of these issues and to advocate for change.
It’s also important because it highlights the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), the arts, politics, and more.
By recognizing the achievements of women, we can inspire the next generation of women to pursue their dreams and break down barriers.
What does the theme #embraceequity mean?
I mentioned to someone that this year’s theme is embracing equity, and the response was, “Wait a minute, I thought you wanted equality?” I told him we want both. Let me explain the difference.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
Imagine you go to a concert. You expect there to be a seat for everyone, right? That’s equality. Equity means some of those seats have handicapped access.
I love the way the company Pipeline™ describes it. They say that equality is the end goal, and equity is the means to get there.
How should I celebrate International Women's Day?
This is a day for reflection and celebration. Here are several ways YOU can celebrate. And don’t forget the men in your life. Men can be allies for women’s rights, and I know many who are as excited as I am for the day.
Attend an event: Check your local community calendar for events celebrating International Women's Day. You might find rallies, marches, panel discussions, or workshops that interest you. Many organizations host events to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Support Women-Owned Businesses: Supporting women-owned businesses is a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day. By buying products or services from women-owned businesses, you can help to promote gender equality and support women entrepreneurs.
Learn About Women’s History: Learning about women’s history is an important way to celebrate International Women’s Day. Many books, documentaries, and online resources can help you learn more about women's contributions to society.
Support a women's organization: Donate to a women's organization that is working to promote gender equality and empower women in your community or around the world. My favorite is the Dress for Success organization, which “empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life”.
Read a book by a female author: Choose a book by a female author that explores themes of gender equality, women's rights, or women's experiences. My book club is currently reading the Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict. This is a fictional account of Agatha Christie, who was well ahead of her time as an author.
Bennett also wrote The Only Woman in the Room, which tells the story of the actress Hedy Lamarr, who is credited with pioneering the technology that would one day form the basis for today’s WIFI, GPS, and Bluetooth (thank you Ms. Lamarr).
Share your story: Take to social media to share your own experiences as a woman or to highlight the achievements of women who have inspired you. I’ll share some of the women who have inspired me in our Facebook group this week, which you can check out here.
Whatever you do to celebrate the day, let’s all commit to taking action- whether through volunteering, donating to organizations that support women's rights, or simply speaking up when we see injustice. Together, we can create a world where every woman is valued, empowered, and able to reach her full potential.