"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem.
No event is a better expression of that communal, global, solidarity than International Women’s Day, an annual tradition celebrating women’s achievements and supporting the cause of worldwide gender parity. On March 8, women from all walks of life, all over the world, will stand up in the spirit of unity, reflection, advocacy, and action as they have on this occasion for over a century.
It began in 1909, in honor of the 1908 garment workers' strike in New York, when women rose up against oppression and inequality. 15,000 strong they marched through the streets, demanding shorter hours, better pay and the right to vote. Today, as the struggle continues, International Women’s Day continues to be an instrument for change.
How Women Can Support and Celebrate One Another
Indeed, International Women’s Day is a wonderful yearly milestone that reinforces women’s unity, but celebrating and honoring the women we are lucky enough to have in our lives is a daily responsibility. If we can remember to let our mother’s, sisters, daughters, and colleagues know how special they are to us, our lives will be that much richer and our cause that much stronger.
It’s no secret that women can be cruel to each other. Let’s face it, the mean girl stereotype comes from somewhere. But we can make the choice to rise above jealousy and pettiness and replace snark with kindness and compassion. Pave the way by showing respect and appreciation for other women in any of the following ways.
Use Your Power for Good
You don’t need to put another woman down to feel good about yourself. You can be a brilliant and powerful superstar and use that power to encourage others to be their best selves as well.
Be Open and Honest
It takes courage to be open and honest with other women and truly show your authentic self. We all fear being judged and often pretend we have it all together when we surely don’t. Be a leader and share your thoughts and feelings and you’ll be surprised how much others appreciate it and feel comfortable opening up in return.
Show your support for a friend’s endeavor. Whether it’s a new business venture or a self-improvement project, let your friend know that you appreciate their bravery and are proud of them for taking a risk and putting it all out there. A kind word at the end of a long, trying day can make all the difference. If words aren’t enough, pick her up at the office for a rejuvenating workout at the gym—and then treat her to a cathartic cocktail.
Appreciate Your Office Colleagues
Don’t be afraid to pay a compliment to a work colleague or tell a mentor how much you appreciate her. If you don’t have a mentor, reach out to a woman that you admire and ask for her advice.
Avoid the Usual Traps
Steer clear of hurtful gossip and quash the urge to compare yourself to other women. Both are common pitfalls that keep women at odds with each other.
What About Men?
International Women’s Day may focus on women’s issues, but it is an inclusive event that welcomes a strong male presence. The fact is, the ultimate achievement of true gender parity pivots on influencing the hearts and minds of men. Their enlightenment and support are essential in creating a better future for women.
Below are the few suggestions that can help men better support the women in their lives.
Listen to Others
Listening is the key to men understanding women on a deeper level. The more men listen, the safer women feel speaking up and the more likely we are to find common ground.
Advocate for Women
Gender based research shows that when women advocate for themselves at work, they make a negative impression. Because of that bias, it is imperative that men advocate for female leadership in the workplace.
Engage in Conversation
It’s important for men not to shy away from conversations about gender equality that make them uncomfortable. It is only through honest conversation that men and women can deal with female empowerment as a human issue, not a woman’s issue.
Support International Women’s, Day March 8, by getting involved in any of the myriad of activities in your area. And support the wonderful women in your life by making every day Women’s Day!