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).