Celebrating International Women's Day
On March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. This global holiday is about celebrating the achievements of women, while also spotlighting and creating dialogues around important issues that affect women and girls across the globe.
The first women’s day was organized in 1909 in the context of the suffragette movement. Women marched in New York City to ask for voting rights and better working conditions, starting this empowering tradition.
International Women’s Day in the 21st century
Over the years, the issues highlighted on this holiday have evolved. While the first participants aimed to draw attention to voting rights or World War I, the discussion is different today.
For many, it’s another opportunity to raise awareness of the wage gap and other forms of economic inequity that disproportionately affect women, especially women of color. For instance, on average women still earn $0.82 for every dollar that men earn. But there are disparities in that statistic as well. For example, Black women only earn 63% of every dollar a man earns.
While we believe it is crucial to work towards solutions to these problems each and everyday, International Women Day is an important opportunity to draw attention to the barriers that exist for women in industry, the arts, academics, home life, and more, and the holiday can act as a catalyst for change.
These are just a handful of the issues that women and girls face worldwide and that International Women's Day draws attention to:
- Access to education and employment is a women’s rights issue: 129 million girls are out of school around the world.
- In some countries, access to health care is a challenge, especially to reproductive health and maternity care.
- Sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are urgent issues. The UN describes the rise in domestic violence that has taken place during COVID-19 as a shadow pandemic.
- Practices like child marriage are still prevalent in some countries; 12 million girls under the age of 18 are married each year. The holiday is also an opportunity to denounce practices like female genital mutilation and honor killings.
While some challenges have remained constant for women and girls over the years, new issues are emerging. There is a growing awareness regarding the complex connection between sexism and racism, as well as a more intersectional approach to women’s rights with the inclusion of LGBT issues.
In the future, issues such as how women are disproportionately affected by climate change or lack of access to water will continue to grow in importance.
Uplifting women on a global scale
International Women's Day is about drawing attention to issues and challenges, but it’s also a day when communities can celebrate achievements and inspire everyone to take action.
The long list of challenges and issues that affect women and girls can make things seem bleak, but there is a silver lining. For instance, in 2021, a total of 69 countries passed over 260 legal reforms to advance women’s rights. Women’s business ownership rate is also on the rise: one in three businesses are now owned by women.
March 8 is an occasion to take action:
- It can be as simple as supporting women-owned small businesses and local women entrepreneurs.
- You can also donate to a nonprofit that advocates for women’s rights. Your local domestic violence shelter is a good choice, but you can also support the Malala Fund, Girls Not Brides or Alternatives for Girls, among many others.
- Start a conversation about the unique obstacles in your community that prevent women and girls from thriving.
- Look into impact investing by conducting ESG research for the products you pick so you can support companies with good social practices, including equal pay.
- Researching social entrepreneurship and educating others about this topic can make a difference. This approach to entrepreneurship supports the regenerative economy and calls for a more humane and sustainable way of operating a business.
- Are you a college student? Now is the right time to research impact careers with opportunities available in fields like corporate social responsibility, nonprofits, sustainable energy, lobbying and more.
Joining with others could be the first step in your journey to getting involved and making a difference for women’s rights. Join a Net Impact chapter and be a part of its Regenerative Economy series to learn more about this movement and explore careers with meaning.