Celebrating International Women's Day: 100 Years and Counting

March 08, 2011

One hundred years ago, more than a million people came together at rallies in several European countries to call for women’s right to vote, work and hold public office and an end to discrimination. International Women’s Day (IWD) was born. Today, IWD has become a celebration of women’s economic, political and social achievements, but also brings attention to how much work still needs to be done in order for women to achieve equality. For example, around the world, women perform 66 percent of the world’s work—but earn just 10 percent of the income and own one percent of the property.

To mark this special 100th anniversary, the IWD Global Arts Initiative has launched  “100 Women, 100 Artworks” and “100 Women, 100 Stories.” All of the stories and works of art, which include paintings, sculptures, photographs, collages and more, have been created by women from around the world, “to inspire, challenge, entertain and provoke thought from a gender angle,” according to the IWD website.

If you want to celebrate International Women’s Day, here are some simple things you can do:

Create something uniquely “you”—write a story or a poem, paint a picture, bake something, build something. And think of all the other women around the world who are creating today, too.

Thank a woman who has helped, encouraged or inspired you. (I'm sending a note to my high school creative writing teacher.)

Read a book or watch a movie about women’s history, struggles or achievements. Share what you learn with your family and friends. (On my list: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn.)

Donate to a cause that supports women (UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, for example).

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  1. My grandmother became a Democrat when she was finally allowed voting rights. Her husband was a Republican and he would complain she took his vote away as she always voted opposite him. I think there was a bit of discord going on there - maybe too many years of being told what she could or couldn't do. I always liked this story of Grandma standing up for herself.

    We give some money to Catholic Relief which not only deals with the huge disasters that sweep the globe but they also have micro loans to help women move up the earnings and value scale.

  2. It is interesting to me that this day of celebration has been around for 100 years when I've only become aware of it in the last few years.

    Hmmm, think maybe I'll go paint a picture!

  3. Timaree--I got a kick out of your grandma's story! Maybe that's why some men are reluctant to recognize women's equality--they're afraid we'll all do the opposite of what they want!

  4. Laure--I've only known about it for a couple of years myself. Apparently it's a much bigger deal in some other countries.

    Yes--go paint a picture!

  5. I'm afraid I was totally unprepared for this day, but I did read a number of really great blog posts! It's good to think about all the things women now can do thanks to other women, but we still have a ways to go, don't we!

  6. Danielle--I agree--it's good to note all the things women can do now, but there are so many women who don't have even the most basic of rights. We do still have a long way to go.