- Kristen Balisi
Your Guide To Celebrating International Women's Day
Every year on March 8, people worldwide commemorate International Women's Day, a time dedicated to honoring and promoting women's rights and equality.
After all, while we, as a globe, have made considerable progress in terms of combating gender discrimination and recognizing the pivotal role women play in society, there is still significant room for improvement. For example, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, “Although 82% of women aged 25 to 54 now participate in Canada’s workforce, they are still underrepresented in leadership roles. Women hold only 25% of vice-president positions, and 15% of CEO positions.” Moreover, according to UNESCO estimates, gender disparities in education persist today, with 130 million girls aged 6 to 17 not attending school.
With these ongoing challenges in mind, you may be wondering what you can do as an individual to advocate for equality and bring about positive change. If you want to learn more about how you can show your support and make an impact, check out the five ideas below dedicated to advancing gender equality, empowering all women and girls, and commemorating International Women's Day!
1. Champion for gender equality in your community
As youth, there are numerous actions we can take to bring women closer to equality, whether that be in our homes, schools, or communities as a whole. At home, one simple yet often overlooked way to address this topic is to discuss gender equality with friends, family, and loved ones. By having conversations about gender roles in today’s society, delving deeper into how we can achieve a gender-equal world, or celebrating women leaders in our homes, we can help fight stereotypes and even reshape how we think about gender and equality. At school, you can create International Women’s Day posters to display in the hallways, make an informative announcement on the PA about the significance of gender equality, or even invite a guest speaker to visit and lead a discussion on this subject. Lastly, consider showing your appreciation to female artists in your community by organizing a photo or art exhibit at your local library or community center.
2. Open the conversation to people of all gender identities
To truly achieve gender equality, we must recognize the fundamental role that men and individuals who identify beyond the gender binary play in effecting positive change. In fact, according to research conducted by Harvard Business Review magazine, “When men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress —compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.”
For this reason, when organizing International Women’s Day initiatives or advocating for diversity and inclusion in general, it is of utmost importance that we welcome and invite people of all genders to join the discussion. Building a more inclusive society, after all, involves working towards accomplishing our goals together.
3. Start a book club with your classmates or friends
In addition to broadening our perspectives, books are excellent educational tools that can help us understand the barriers that women face, identify areas for improvement in achieving gender equality, and ultimately support female authors. Therefore, consider starting a book club in your community dedicated to bringing awareness and learning more about women’s issues, empowerment, and achievements.
To help you begin, below are some great books to check out!
I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
Because I Was A Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages, edited by Melissa de la Cruz
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
4. Support women-owned businesses
Frequenting and purchasing from women-owned businesses, in addition to motivating others to do likewise, is a great way to support female entrepreneurs and promote economic equality. In fact, Women Owned, an initiative dedicated to bringing awareness to and endorsing women-owned businesses and their products, summed it up perfectly, stating, "Your support for Women Owned businesses is an investment into a future of economic success, innovation, and equality."
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for local shops, check out this article to learn more about women-owned businesses near you!
5. Celebrate the women in your life
Often, we underestimate the power of kind words and gratitude to motivate and impact people in positive, meaningful ways. However, simply taking the time to thank and appreciate the women in our lives, whether they are our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, or role models, can go a long way and carry more weight than you may expect.