International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide on March 8th, and with good reason. Women are strong. They’re caregivers, confidants, mentors, and revolutionaries. Above all, they’re human beings who deserve love and respect.
The holiday originated in 1911 with a call for women’s suffrage and a demand for increased awareness surrounding the unique political, social, economic, and cultural issues faced by women.
On International Women’s Day, it’s common to give flowers to the women in our lives as a symbol of sensitivity and strength. And while a fresh bouquet makes for a beautiful gesture of thanks, there’s more we can do to honor the women whose brave words and actions have brought us leaps and bounds closer to equality.
Here are some things you can do to empower the women in your life every day:
Thank your mother. Thank your sister, your friend, and the woman behind the cash register. Write a card, speak the words, or send a text. If you can, be specific in your expression of gratitude. Are you thankful that they scaled back their career goals to be more present in raising you? Did they help you to rebuild your confidence after a bad breakup? Reflect on how the women in your life have supported you, and make them aware of their positive impact!
Encourage Them to Speak Up
Support women who have something to say. Whether they’ve been treated unfairly, touched in a way that made them uncomfortable, or rubbed the wrong way by a well-intentioned joke, women’s concerns warrant serious consideration and corrective action.
Speak Up for Them
If you’re not a woman, you can play an important role in advocating for them. If you overhear harmful speech about women, see women being treated with disrespect, or witness an act of inequality, call it out! Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for sexism and gender discrimination.
Challenge Your Own Biases
You’re unloading heavy boxes from your car when your sister offers to help. Do you accept her offer?
Sometimes we make decisions without pausing to think critically. Gender bias refers to the act of making assumptions based on the socially constructed expectations we have for men and women. For example, the idea that lifting heavy boxes is a man’s job is rooted in gender bias.
Challenge your own ideas of how men and women should and should not contribute to society.
Regardless of the sex a person is assigned at birth, a woman is a woman if she identifies as one. Accept women who want to be viewed, loved, and treated as women. If you’re unsure what language to use when addressing her, just ask! Check out our guide to pronouns here.
Thanks to women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, and Alice Paul, women now have the right to vote in the United States. Their activism was met with intense backlash, harassment, and even jail time.
For many, earning the right to vote was once considered an impossible goal. Keep this in mind as you decide whether or not to use your vote to influence policy changes.
Make Them Leaders
Buy goods from women-owned small businesses, vote women into office, and put women in decision-making roles. Whether you’re in a business setting, running a household, or just coexisting in the same space as a woman, place power in her hands and trust her to do good things with it. Women make up half of the world’s population, and they should be represented in positions of leadership accordingly.
Be a Good Mentor
Do you have a younger sibling, family member, or friend? If so, there’s a good chance that they’re watching your every move.
When you ask a woman for her opinion, respect her wishes to be left alone, listen to her concerns, or remind her that she should never stop pursuing her wildest dreams, you’re setting a good example for those who look up to you.
Celebrate International Women’s Day with one core value in mind: love! How can you show more love to the women in your life on March 8th and every other day? Get out there and do your part to bring all of us one step closer to equality.