Mark your calendars: International Women's Day (IWD) is coming up on Friday, March 8, and I can already feel the girl power building. It's a day to not only commemorate the incredible contributions and strengths of women all over the globe, but to speak up about the work we still have left to do in the fight for women's rights and total gender equality. With these 10 small and easy things you can do to make a difference on International Women's Day 2019, you'll celebrate the holiday while making an impact.
This year, the theme for International Women's Day is #BalanceforBetter. "The future is exciting. Let's build a gender-balanced world," explained the official IWD website. "From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Balance drives a better working world. Let's all help create a #BalanceforBetter." By supporting fellow women and using your voice on March 8 (and every day, for that matter) you help society work toward that gender balance.
If you're feeling fired up and motivated to make a difference, I've got you covered. Grab your girlfriends, daughters, sisters, moms, or coworkers and celebrate the day with these progress focused ways make a difference.
1Use the official hashtag.
Don't let the cynics tell you that social media doesn't make a difference. Get on your Instagram, your Facebook, or your Twitter, and let's see those #BalanceforBetter posts. Whether it's an endorsement of a women-led organization or company, a shout-out to the most inspiring woman you know, or a snapshot of your day at an IWD event, posting and using the hashtag can motivate others to get involved, too. This is one kind of social media peer pressure that is beneficial for everyone!
2Teach your children about International Women's Day.
Educate the next generation of feminists and activists by getting them involved in IWD activities. Explain to your kids why the day is celebrated, and how important it is for women and men to be treated equally. Read about remarkable women, watch an inspiring girl power movie, or volunteer together.
3Donate to a local women's shelter.
Do something today to support the struggling, marginalized women in your community. If you are financially able, give a monetary donation to a women's shelter or another nonprofit helping local women. Round up clothes you don't wear anymore or toys your children no longer play with, and drop them off at a shelter. Call or stop in and inquire about volunteer opportunities. Find a way to offer support to the women in your community who need it most.
4Support a woman-owned business.
Use this day as a chance to support your favorite women-owned or women-run businesses. Round up your friends or family and go eat dinner at a woman-owned restaurant, or splurge on a new outfit at your favorite boutique. Endorse these businesses for free by writing great reviews or simply giving them a social media shoutout.
5Attend a local IWD event.
What better way to celebrate the day and spread the message than by gathering with women and allies at an organized event? The official International Women's Day website has a tool to search IWD events in your area, from "global gatherings, conferences, awards, exhibitions, festivals, fun runs, corporate events, concert performances, speaking events, online digital gatherings and more."
6Support a girlfriend's project or endeavor.
There are motivated, inspiring, and go-getting women all around us. Whether you've got a friend writing a blog or a coworker raising money for a cause she's passionate about, you've got a chance to offer your support and encouragement. You can help by donating, sharing the project online, or simply reaching out with kind words, and International Women's Day is a wonderful time to do it.
7Accomplish or work toward a goal.
If you're brimming with girl power and feminist pride, channel that toward a goal of your own. Use this day to remind yourself that you are capable, powerful, and worthy, and there is nothing stopping you from reaching that dream you've been pushing aside. It's easy to brush off your own goals and focus on others, but today is a day to be selfish.
8Invest in the next generation of women.
One of the most powerful, impactful things you can do is to empower the next generation of women. Write a letter to your daughter about all the ways she makes you proud, gift your niece with an inspiring new book, or use the holiday as motivation to sign up for Big Sisters, Girls on the Run, or another mentorship program. No matter how big or small, your actions can have profound effects on young girls.
9Thank a woman (or women!) who inspires you.
International Women's Day is the perfect time to show your gratitude toward a woman who inspires you. Send your mom or grandma a bouquet and thank them for everything they've taught you. Surprise your best friend with a thoughtful letter. Reach out to a female leader in your community and thank them for their work. It may be a small gesture for you, but it will be incredibly meaningful for them.
"In my experience, being bold for change means having the courage to stand up and speak up - not just for yourself, but for others. This enables confident, empowered individuals and teams," wrote Carla Christofferson, Executive VP of AECOM, writes on the official IWD website. "It’s up to each and every one of us to ensure all voices are heard and that all people are given equal representation and respect."
Your voice is the most valuable thing you have, and March 8 is the perfect day to use it. Honor your experiences, your goals, your hopes, and your thoughts about International Women's Day, and inspire others to do the same.