Ways to celebrate International Women's Day
Getting ready to celebrate and support International Women's Day (IWD)?
There are some fabulous ways to mark the day - whether with friends, families, colleagues, classmates, or the global community.
IWD is first and foremost a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also an important day to raise awareness, forge progress, educate and inspire communities, and highlight issues of gender equity. This focus can be collectively supported by individuals and groups everywhere.
Some facts about International Women's Day
- IWD was marked for the first time in March 1911, and the specific date of March 8 was secured two years later.
- IWD's official colors of IWD are purple and green (and white).
- In 1975, the United Nations marked IWD for a first time.
- In 2001, with minimal IWD activity worldwide, the IWD website launched to increase mainstream awareness and provide resources.
- In 2011, President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, proclaimed March 2011 as Women's History Month and called upon all Americans to observe the month and celebrate IWD.
- IWD is recognized as an official holiday in many countries such as Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, Mongolia, Montenegro, Cambodia, and Ukraine - and in some countries like Macedonia, Uzbekistan and Serbia it's combined with Mother’s Day.
- IWD is now an annual mainstream moment, marked my millions worldwide and celebrated through events, campaigns, speeches, performances and more.
Watch, Read and Learn
Gender equity can be a complex topic, so watching relevant videos, reading inspiring books, and listening to informative podcasts can help explore some of its topics.
Videos, books and podcasts can provide a powerful tool for education, offering unique perspectives that can change the way we think and feel, while opening our eyes to new ideas and possibilities.
Connecting to different perspectives, experience, and insights can inspire us to take action and help play our part in advancing women's rights.
Film and TV
Facts about Women and Work
- 33% of women don’t want to return to their physical workplace citing greater productivity working from home (Forbes).
- Rwanda and Solomon Islands have the highest employment rate for women with 83% of women older than 15 in both countries employed (The World Bank).
- 59% of women in the world deal with non-inclusive behavior at work with almost three in five women experience harassment or microaggression in the workplace worldwide (Deloitte).
- In some parts of the world, women may face legal restrictions to working. In 100 countries, laws still exist that restrict the type of work women can do (The World Bank).
- Globally, women are paid less than men, with women earning on average about 60% to 75% of men’s wages. Closing the pay gap between men and women would lead to the world’s GDP increasing to $12 trillion by 2025 (World Bank).
Good news to celebrate women
While women worldwide still face many challenges, there is always good news worth celebrating for International Women's Day.
From individuals achieving great things for themselves and their communities, to governments showing their support for women, these positive stories should bring a smile to your face.
Donate to Female-Focused Charities
While raising awareness is important, money makes a huge and long-lasting difference to the advancement of women and girls around the world.
Consider donating or fundraising for female-focused charities and nonprofits addressing gender inequality.
- World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the largest international youth movement dedicated to girls and young women, supporting over 10 million girls across 152 countries.
- Catalyst is a global nonprofit working with companies around the world to build workplaces that work for women. They're a trusted resource for knowledge on gender, leadership and inclusive talent management.
- Equality Now helps create a just world where women and girls have the same rights as men and boys by tackling difficult issues, challenging ingrained cultural assumptions, calling out inequality, and using the power of the law to create enduring equality.
- Nomi Network helps to combat human trafficking by creating pathways to safe employment and empowering women and girls to break cycles of slavery in their families and communities.
- Dress for Success empowers women across the world to achieve economic independence via a network of support, professional attire, and tools to help them thrive in work and life. Consider donating an hour of pay to empower a woman to change her future via Your Hour Her Power.
- Womankind Worldwide supports women's rights organizations and movements to secure equal rights for women and girls, so they can live without fear of violence, have a say in decisions that impact them, and control their own life.
Each year there are thousands of IWD events held around the world, and you can search and register for IWD events in your local area, ir promote your own IWD Event here.
Activism moves the world; art moves the heart and soul. Combined, these can bring about social change. So, what better way to celebrate IWD by being creative?
Whether you're a beginner or an expert, the creative arts are an inclusive and accessible tool to express yourself. Draw from your personal experience; be inspired by women you admired; or use the IWD campaign theme as a prompt to create.
There are so many great art forms to explore - here are some favorites:
- Photography: Observe the world around you and take a snapshot of what it means to be a woman. Be inspired by reflecting on the IWD 2020 photography competition representing a wide range of styles and subjects.
- Baking: Be creative and treat yourself to something sweet by making some IWD-inspired cakes. Check out these previous mouth-watering bakes that'll have you running to the kitchen to make your own.
- Typography: Typography is a unique way to communicate IWD-related words and phrases. Plus, you can showcase your work via our IWD Typism Lettering Challenge in partnership.
- Music: Women are dominating and dismantling the music industry, expressing themselves through uplifting lyrics and memorable tunes. With so many musical genres and instruments, find your perfect way to be creative musically.
- Spoken word poetry: Writing poetry builds creativity, and performing it boosts confidence. Listen to some brilliant women perform their pieces to get into the rhythm.
What to do at work
- Bring together your team to volunteer or fundraise for a female-focused charity.
Perhaps start with these IWD Charities of Choice or make an impact in the communities where you live and work.
- Host an IWD event at your workplace with your team or your entire company.
Start by kitting out your event with IWD resources and check out this how-to guide to ensure success on the day.
- Invite an external speaker to inspire and inform your team.
From motivational keynote addresses to engaging niche topic experts, a great speaker can bring a new perspective for IWD.
- Promote IWD through internal and external communications.
Perhaps your company as an employee newsletter or public-facing social media platforms. Highlight women's accomplishments, educate about female-focused topics, or perhaps share some of the inspiring quotes below.
- Use IWD as a starting point to make long-lasting change in your workplace.
If you're a leader, review your current policies to ensure they fully support your female employees. If you're an employee, reflect on whether your company culture is inclusive and equal, and push for change if needed. Or apply for a new job elsewhere.
What to do at school
- Learn about famous women in history.
The past is packed with influential women who changed the world. Inspire the next generation by learning about these women's lives and the impact they made.
- Read books written by women.
Books are a great educational tool. Set reading assignments centered around a book written by a woman and task students to write their own female-focused story.
- Decorate the classroom.
Surrounded students with IWD-related art projects and hang up photos of famous historical and modern-day women - or perhaps encourage students to take their own striking the IWD campaign theme pose.
- Do presentations.
Encourage students to share with their peers about a woman they most admire, perhaps a celebrity or historic figure, or even a friend or family member.
- Wear purple clothes.
Everyone loves fancy dress, so why not ask both students and teachers to wear purple clothes on IWD. Purple is one of the campaign colors, signifying justice and dignity and being loyal to the cause - originating from the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the UK in 1908.
Be inspired by great quotes by women, for women
Let's finish with some quotes from women, about women, to help inspire and empower us to be brave and bold in our lives. These iconic women are leaders in their fields and famous activists forging change for the better.
Share these fabulous quotes with friends, families and colleagues, or post on social media to reach as many people as possible.
- “I raise up my voice - not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." - Malala Yousafzai
- "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made...It shouldn't be that women are the exception." - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” - Oprah Winfrey
- “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." - Michelle Obama
- “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women's voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored." - Sheryl Sandberg