March 8 is International Women’s Day, a worldwide event designed to bring attention to women's rights and to celebrate their accomplishments and achievements throughout history — socially, politically, in the home and in the world at large. While the event has been observed since the early 1900s, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights and better pay, it continues to be celebrated today because women have yet to achieve gender equality. That's right, in 2016, 105 years after the first recognized International Women's Day, both women and men still prefer to hire men in STEM fields, for example. So what can we do to change that? How can we celebrate International Women's Day with our children and help the next generation make the changes we still cannot?
First and foremost, how you celebrate International Women's Day with your kid will vary, depending on their age. (I mean toddlers aren't going to be able to grasp concepts and societal constructs like their older peers.) But it isn't what you do that matters; it is that you do something — anything — to set the precedence that women issues matter. Women matter.
Here are a few age-appropriate ideas:
Toddlers & Pre-school-Aged Children
Sometimes it seems impossible to find the right approach for this age. I mean, my own kiddo is just two-and-a-half: if she cannot crap in the potty, how the hell can she comprehend the social injustices in this world? Well, as with everything, she needs to start small; we need to start small, and the Natural Parents Network has the perfect age-appropriate activity:
Print some outlines of women, select a couple of important women from history, and make some quick popsicle-stick puppets. This is a cheap, interactive, and fun way to talk about some important characters in women’s history. How about Frida Kahlo, Laura Secord, or Cleopatra?
Or aunts, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, or Mommy?
Older children can keep with the "art theme" as well, but instead of coloring in popsicle-stick puppets, they can draw portraits of some of their favorite female influencers. They can make cartoons or comic books starring Jane Goodall or Amelia Earhart, and they can then use facts from the internet to fill in their stories and to write their creative tales.
Not feeling artistic? Watching a movie with a strong female protagonist or reading a story about one of the many women influencers of our time can be just as educational and fun.
Pre-teens & Teens
Much like toddlers, teaching teens and pre-teens is hard. They know everything...and don't want to do anything (or maybe that was just me). Either way, this is the perfect age for activism: Encourage your teen to write an article, a blog post, or a "status" about women's rights — and what that means to them. Take them to an official International Women’s Day event or, if there is no IWD event in your area, help them plan their own. For next year, of course.
The point isn't what you do, or where you do it, the point is to honor women. To talk about women. To celebrate their achievements and successes, and to acknowledge that women and men still have a long way to go before they are equal — before they are seen by everyone as equal.