The idea of dedicating a day to women and their voices has been around since the early 1900s, when gender equality movements picked up steam in parts of the industrialized world. And for generations since, women everywhere have been working tirelessly to tighten the gap, facing immense opposition and systemic hurdles along the way. This year, let’s do right by our forebears and ensure that International Women’s Day doesn’t become just another hallmark-ified holiday co-opted by corporations.
Here are a few things you can do to make the most of IWD 2018, outside of tweeting an inspirational quote or two (as gratifying as that can be!).
1. Attend an event
The best way to express solidarity is to simply show up. In NYC, here are a few events to check out today:
- Ladies Get Drinks: IWD Edition — a panel featuring female-identifying artists and entrepreneurs who will discuss how we can redefine leadership and what it means to be “CEO.” Over cocktails. 6:00–8:30 PM, Tictail Market
- International Women’s Strike — an hour-long strike leading into a march from Washington Square Park to Downtown Manhattan organized by a grassroots coalition. The goal of the strike is to make the absence of women felt throughout homes and workplaces and to provide a platform for their voices to be heard. 4:00–11:00 PM, Washington Square Park
- The Future is Female @ Nitehawk — Nitehawk will be screening 8 female-directed sci-fi short films, and all proceeds will benefit The Director List. Stay for a free happy hour at Lo-Res Bar, sponsored by female-owned Owney’s Rum. 7:00–11:00 PM, Nitehawk Cinema
- Talks at the Schomburg: MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora — MFON is a new publication featuring female photographers of African descent. Its co-founders and participating photographers will be in conversation at the Schomburg in Harlem. 6:30–8:00 PM, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
2. Give a shout out or write a note to someone you admire
We are one another’s best cheerleaders. Can you remember the last time you were feeling down on yourself and received a heartfelt note reminding you why you’re worthy? Probably not, because we often get too wrapped up in our own lives to go the extra mile for those around us. Kindness is contagious and can make all the difference, so start a domino effect of shout-outs in your network by sending a private message, posting on social media, or even giving a handwritten note to a female-identifying person who you think rocks. Your action might just push them toward a much-needed breakthrough.
3. Make a donation or volunteer
Do some research on the growing list of amazing local/national/global organizations out there with the mission of helping women and girls succeed and addressing gender inequities. From Planned Parenthood, to Girls Who Code, which encourages young girls to get involved in tech, to Womankind, which helps women recover from situations of domestic violence, to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, there are literally thousands of organizations to choose from and that really need your help.
4. Encourage someone you know to get involved in politics
It’s no secret that there is a shocking lack of female representation in our political system — and, often, a lack of respect for those who are — but there are steps we can make toward an improved democracy (this article from The Cut explains the issues well). You might think that “becoming a politician” implies a total career shift, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s enormous opportunity to get involved on a local level, which is sometimes where the most direct social impact takes place. Nonprofit She Should Run created this “Ask a Woman to Run for Office” form to build a community of women who are fired up and ready to engage in politics. If you prefer to stay on the sidelines and use the power of your vote, consider making a donation to Emily’s List, an organization that helps get progressive women elected all over the country.