Founded in the early 1990s, International Women’s Day is a day where we celebrate and recognize the social, political, economic, and cultural achievement of women. It is a day where we come together to reflect on the progress made, acknowledge the existing challenges women around the world still currently face, and collaborate on future call to action plans.
As a fellow Canadian, our 2018 Federal Budget was released yesterday. On the women front, there was an emphasis on gender equality – particularly on women in the workforce and women entrepreneurship. It also, for the first time in Canadian history, went through a full gender-based analysis during its approval process.
This is a step forward in the right direction. This is symbolic for Canada and we must continue to pave the way for the other countries in the world.
It wasn’t very long ago that women were fighting for the right to vote, but sadly we still have a long way to go. The World Economic Forum (WEF) released their report with findings indicating that it will take another 217 years to close the gender gap. Personally, I think that’s 212 years way too long and we seriously have some work to do! This year, the theme being “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” marks an important moment in our history with movements such as, TIME’S UP and #MeToo. More than ever now, there is no better time to continue the momentum and #PressForProgress.
While gender parity might not be solved in 24 hours, there are many ways to support, honour, and celebrate this important day. Below are eight conscious and holistic ways you can contribute to the ongoing advocacy of women’s rights:
Support your favourite women-owned businesses or socially conscious companies that give back to women’s health + education
There is no lovelier way to say thank you and to show your appreciation by purchasing from a local business woman in your community for their hard work and contribution to today’s economy.
Companies that incorporate social responsibility and sustainability have proven many times that they have positive impact on the communities they serve. Healthcare, education, and sustainable incomes are all contributing factors to improve community development and help break the cycle of poverty. You can do your part by purchasing gifts that gives back to someone in need – especially ones that send girls to school, expand holistic programming to vulnerable young women, or provide employment to female artisans around the world.
Read a book about a feminist in history who is downright badass and nasty to the core
The battle for women’s literacy was a long and bitter one, but not one to be forgotten.
As a proud Canadian, take some time and start with The Famous Five, suffragist Emily Stowe, and Black abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd. Then move on to Doris Anderson who pushed for equality rights to be included into Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Mary Two-Axe Earley, who challenged law discriminating First Nations women.
To our neighbours down south, how about civil rights activist Rosa Parks who took a stand against segregation, and women’s rights activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who founded The National Woman Suffrage Association. Then, there was Betty Friedan who striked for gender equality and Coretta Scott King who stood up for equal rights.
These, amongst many more, are the fearless women pioneers who have shaped the world as we know it today. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are.
Make a donation to an charity that supports women and invest in their future
Girls are our leaders of tomorrow and yet there are currently over 130 million girls around the globe who have no access to education. Consider donating a small amount today that will help invest in their future. Organizations such as CARE Canada, She’s The First, Malala Fund, and Camfed provide scholarships, resources, and opportunities to enable girls to be catalysts for change in their communities.
Attend a local Women’s Day event, and bring a female colleague or mentee with you
Since I am based in Ottawa, here are my recommendations on events that you should attend during the week of IWD.
- Celebrating International Women’s Day (Free to attend, RSVP required)
- International Women’s Day | #StartupWomen Talks & Networking ($28+)
- The 10th Annual Women In Business Conference ($200+)
- 2018 Women’s Leadership Summit ($30-75)
- 2018 International Women’s Day Celebration Dinner ($10-15)
- International Women’s Day Bash (Free to attend)
- Women’s Day Celebration ($25)
- Startup Canada Live | Advancing Women in STEM Careers (Free)
- Care Canada’s Walk In Her Shoes (Free to attend, donations welcomed)
For information on other cities, head on over to the International Women’s Day website and visit their city events page to see what else is happening around you. Another fantastic avenue would be going on Eventbrite or Facebook events.
Find a women-driven cause that speaks to you personally and commit time to advocating for women and girls that can’t speak
Money isn’t the only way you can donate. Donate your time by volunteering at a local women’s shelter or a mentoring program for young girls! Not only will the experience broaden your perspective and be rewarding, but you will be more than inspired by the dozen stories of strength, hope, and resilience.
Start a conversation
Inspire others around your networks about the significance of this day by writing an article, publishing a blog post, or posting on social media. Whether it be a thank you post to the inspiring women in your life or a informative article about gender parity in your community, amplify your voice and take a stance.
If you are feeling extra empowered, write an editorial to your local newspaper about the big issues girls and women in your community are facing that need to be addressed!
Host a movie screening
What’s a better way to get everyone empowered than at the comfort of their own seats? Screen a movie or documentary film that highlights gender issues around the world with your friends, family, colleagues, or students. Bonus? Host a discussion session after the movie and explore some of the film’s key messages.
Below are some film recommendations:
- Hidden Figures
- I Am a Girl
- Miss Representation
- A Path Appears
- Girl Rising
- No Woman, No Cry
Follow IWD on Twitter and retweet posts from women-focused organizations who run their own IWD campaigns
Got Twitter? Follow International Women’s Day now and spark a conversation online! Make sure you include hashtags such as: #IWD2018, #InternationalWomensDay, #WomensDay, #PressForProgress, and #GenderParity in your tweets.
Awareness promotes action. Play your part on social media, leverage your networks, and help spread the word.
March 8th will be the day where we focus on unity, equality, and advocacy for girls and women globally. However, let’s not come together only for the day; let’s make WOMEN a topic for every day so that we are a few years closer to closing that gender gap.