A Guide to Celebrating International Women's Day

Tomorrow, March 8, is International Women’s Day — how are you going to celebrate?

Maybe, like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, we’re supposed to highlight a practice we should be observing on a daily basis. Or maybe Corporate America is going to profit from human tendencies to make up for what we forgot to do all year long. Except it’s not.

Drug stores haven’t preemptively arranged tables of commercialized gifts for the “special woman in your life.” The floral industry isn’t rushing to hike the prices of rose bouquets. Children aren’t bringing their mothers breakfast in bed. There won’t be any clearance holiday items at the grocery store tomorrow.

No one is capitalizing off International Women’s Day. Not even women.


In 1908, the first International Women’s Day was observed as 15,000 women marched in the streets of New York City, demanding equal pay, better working conditions and voting rights. More than 100 years later, women still don’t have equal pay and recognition in the workplace.

What we do have, as women, is a day dedicated to our achievements, a recognition of our victories, a celebration of our centuries-long struggle to prove something we shouldn’t have to prove: International Women’s Day is observed in 27 countries around the world, and the United States even designates the entire month of March as Women’s History month.

So how are we observing it?

The 2019 International Women’s Day campaign is centered on #BalanceforBetter.

Women make up more than half of the human population, yet we fail to account for a proportionate amount of political, social and economic power across the globe.

In 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted that actual gender equality would not be reached until 2095. A year later, they adjusted their estimation such that this golden year would not arrive until 2133 (a moment of silence, please).

If we can’t move toward equality faster than a glacial pace, let’s hope that some woman, somewhere, invents a cure for mortality.

How to Celebrate International Women’s Day

If you’d like to see change from anywhere other than beyond the grave, consider taking any of these steps to celebrate the women in your life:

  1. Call your mom, or someone who has been a mother to you. Chances are, you didn’t get to where you are today without the help of at least one woman (ex: your birth).

  2. Vote. Women fought long and hard for the right to vote, so don’t let it go to waste! The more women vote, the better representation we will have in political office. Don’t know when your state’s primary is? Click here to find out!

    Side note for any time-travelers who have come back specifically to 2019 to change whatever historical events are about to happen this year: please stick around to vote in the primaries. Now is your time. We’re begging you.

  3. Be a leader. If you don’t like the leaders in your community, become a better one! Take a pledge, join a club, run for office, start a petition. Any leadership role is a step toward equal representation for women.

  4. Go global. Check out all the opportunities on the International Women’s Day website, or visit Now.org to find resources to support women in communities beyond American borders. Use #IWD2019 or #BalanceforBetter to share posts online throughout the day.

  5. Bask in female creativity! Women contribute socially, culturally, artistically, academically and professionally to the content we consume every day – cherish it! Go to an art gallery, read a book, watch a TedTalk, take time to foster appreciation for the work that women do every day. Find an event in your city on EventBrite.

There are infinite ways to celebrate, but the biggest obstacle to celebrating International Women’s Day is awareness.

The best thing you can do to celebrate is starting a conversation. You might not know everything about the day, but you sure as hell know at least one woman. Show her some appreciation today! If you’re a woman, show yourself some appreciation! What better reason to treat yourself (all month long!)?

A version of this post was originally published on my college blog in 2016. Read the previous — albeit worse — version here.