How to Celebrate International Women's Day

Three Parts:Educating YourselfCelebrating on a Global BasisCelebrating Individual Women

International Women's Day isn't just about giving a flower to a woman you appreciate and telling her she's great. This day, March 8, is a symbol of the struggles that women around the world have undergone to gain equality and rights and a reminder of how far there is still to go. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help celebrate this important day.

Part 1
Educating Yourself

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    Learn the history of International Women's Day. This celebrates the accomplishments (usually overlooked) of women as well as recognizing their achievements and the struggles that they've gone through. It was a part of the labor movements that began in the early 1900s in America and Europe.[1]
    • The first International Women's Day was celebrated in 1909 to honor the 1908 garment women's strike in New York. The women were protesting their horrific working conditions.
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    Learn about women's struggle for equality around the world. Women are not only routinely overlooked, but they are subjected to harassment, assault, violence and disparity in wages based on their gender.
    • A U.N report found that women are discriminated against in almost every country in the world. They found that 70% of the poor are women and that women own about 1% of the world's titled land. Recognizing what women have to go through and raising awareness about that can lead to change.[2]
    • One in three women is a victim of sexual or physical violence[3] and the majority of rapes are either never reported, or the rapist gets off with little to no punishment. This becomes even worse for women of color, who are disproportionately victims of sexual violence, usually at the hand of white males.
    • Even in the U.S. (supposedly so fair and balanced) men and women are far from equal in the eyes of law and in the eyes of society. The U.S. ranks 17th in the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Report. For example, among year-round, full-time workers women were paid 77% of what men were paid and this disparity deepens with race and with age.[4] Also, women are less likely to be hired even when they have the same exact qualifications as a male candidate.[5]
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    Learn why the day is important. As women's accomplishments, particularly those that have to do with the home (raising children, doing "women's work" like cleaning, cooking, etc.) are often ignored and overlooked. This day helps to remind people of the important things that women have contributed around the world.
    • Rosalind Franklin, whose study of DNA was critical to Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, was completely ignored by the Nobel Prize committee while her male colleagues have continued to receive recognition and praise for their discovery of DNA.[6]
    • Ella Baker, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer were women who worked tirelessly and risked their lives in service of the civil rights movement and yet, other than Rosa Parks (who is rarely given the credit she deserves as someone who specifically was going to make a stand, not someone who's feet just happened to hurt one day), these women, and others like them, have been basically forgotten by historians and no woman was asked to give a speech during the March on Washington.[7]
    • There have been many female rulers throughout history, who have been ignored and forgotten by historians. Look no further than Juana of Austria, who served as a capable regent between 1554-9, and who remained a key figure in the Spanish court.[8]

Part 2
Celebrating on a Global Basis

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    Donate to a local women's shelter. This can be anything from money to clothing or food, to your time. Helping out a local women's shelter, especially a battered women's shelter, helps to remind you about the difficulties women continue to face, as well as doing your part to help alleviate some of that.
    • You could turn it into an event with your friends. Get everyone you know to help celebrate the day by helping out a local women's shelter.
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    Eat out for women. Programs like Dining for Women[9] help support women's programs all year-round. You can find or start a local chapter to help raise funds for the work that they do like, like implementing strategies to help improve women's health, or promoting self-reliance and resilience against climate change.
    • There are also often local groups that provide food for women, especially women whose incomes don't allow them to get food that nourishes them properly. Check around your city or town to see what there is to offer.[10]
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    Do activism. Instead of simply giving a flower or a cupcake to a woman you think is awesome, considering actively participating in creating fair wages for women, supporting reproductive rights and care, and legislation that promotes equality.[11]
    • Support bills that bring greater punishment for rapists, or that look to abolish sexual harassment.
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    Check out women's accomplishments. Look around your area. Many groups put on events to celebrate the day, with poetry, art installations, songs, dance, and plays. If there isn't anything happening in your area, consider organizing something. Seek out female artists and politicians for their support and ideas.
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    Find a bridge walk. The nonprofit Women for Women International organizes bridge walks all across the world, form Canada all the way to China. Their aim is to raise awareness about what female survivors of war face every day.[12]
    • This program is also called Join Me on the Bridge. It was begun by two program directors, who were working with Women for Women International in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The campaign calls for women, men, and children to join together in asking for peace and supporting women who have suffered and are suffering because of wars.
    • There are bridge walks events in many cities. Check to see if your area has one and if not, why not start one.[13]

Part 3
Celebrating Individual Women

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    Help out a close female friend or family member. This can be anything from taking care of your sister's children for the evening free of charge so she has a chance to relax, to doing all the housework without being asked by your mother.
    • Consider making a pledge to an important woman in your life that you will continue to help her out throughout the year, be it your mother by doing your chores without her having to ask repeatedly, or taking on half of the cooking and housework from your wife or girlfriend.
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    Tell a woman what she means to you. This could be your boss, a family member, your significant other. You should tell her why she is important and all the thing she does well. For instance, if it's your boss, tell her why she's a great boss and how much you've enjoyed working for her.
    • A lot of the things that women do, especially women who are in charge, are scrutinized for every single thing they've done wrong, or ignored entirely, whereas a man would not be subjected to that type of treatment.
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    Thank the women in your life. Don't just tell them why they are important, thank them for being there for you and for doing what they do. This could be as simple as thanking your mother for helping to raise you (hopefully because you turned out well), or thanking a female friend for helping out during tough times in your life.
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    Treat women with respect. This seems like it should be a super easy one, but to judge by the number of female victims of sexual assault, and simply the day to day struggle of being out of your house while female, this is very obviously not the case.[14]
    • Don't ever tell a woman to "make you sandwich" even as a joke. It's not funny and simply serves to reinforce the idea that women are only there to cook and take care of men.
    • Don't harass women on public transportation (or in public) about their looks, or whether they are smiling or not.
    • DO speak up for women if you see that a woman's being harassed. If your buddies make rape jokes or sandwich jokes, calmly explain to them why those are not respectful (or, even better, ask them to explain why those jokes are funny, and watch as they fall all over themselves to not be misogynistic).
    • Remember, act with respect towards women (any everyone, be a decent human being) every single day, not just on March 8.
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    Raise awareness. Mention that it's International Women's Day to people you know, your family, your coworkers, your friends. Discuss with them why it's an important day and why it's important to treat women with respect and to acknowledge their contributions to society.


  • Don't do these things just to look sensitive and get a day. Women have fought a long struggle (and are still fighting) for equality.


  • Don't talk over women, when you're discussing women's rights and the importance of this day. This is an area that they have more experience with and knowledge about.

Article Info

Categories: Human Rights | Feminism and Sexism