From arts and science to politics and civic engagement, there’s no denying that the achievements and influence of women have shaped our societies with historic achievements. On March 8, International Women’s Day, nations around the world celebrate these achievements and honor the strength and tenacity of women who make headlines as well as female friends and family.
The realm of creativity has long benefitted from the contributions of female artists and writers. Even though artistic history has primarily focused on male creatives, the achievements of these female visionaries finally received the recognition they deserved decades or even centuries later.
As one of Mexico’s most famed artists, Frida Kahlo made her mark on the art world with vibrantly colored, deeply personal paintings. Her work pushed the boundaries of female artistic expression of the times. This work continues to inspire female artists across the world to embrace their individuality and challenge the creative status quo.
Long before feminism was at the forefront of society, Jane Austen’s novels explored the themes of social standing, economic security and marriage for women in a male-dominated society. Her work paved the way not only for future female novelists but for those ground-breaking women who fought for the rights many young women now take for granted.
If you have an artistic woman in your life, International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to encourage their creativity. Whether it’s a trip to the local art museum or the gift of a new journal and pen or pencils, the possibilities are endless when it comes to celebrating their talents.
Think the fields of science, technology, engineering and math are a boy’s club? Think again! Female scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians play an invaluable role in academia. Their success has paved the way for the next generation of scientists with developments that have influenced and informed the course of history.
Over a century before the age of the personal computer, Ada Lovelace broke technological ground and established herself as the first computer programmer. In 1843 while providing notes on the Analytical Engine, one of the earliest computing machines, Lovelace created the algorithm that is considered to be the first example of computer programming.
The name of Florence Nightingale is well known but there are those who don’t know exactly why they know her name. After serving as a nurse in the Crimean War, Florence established the world’s very first secular nursing school at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London. The woman single handedly responsible for giving nursing a good name, the Florence Nightingale Medal is now one of the highest international distinctions a nurse can receive. Florence also helped to improve healthcare across the UK, advocate for better hunger relief in India, helped abolish harsh prostitution laws for women and helped to expand the acceptable forms of female participation in the workplace.
There’s plenty of opportunities for celebrating the technological achievements of women. Take an online coding course in honor of Ada, or host an outdoor movie night screening of 2017’s Hidden Figures, which chronicles the story of Katherine Johnson and her fellow black female mathematicians working for NASA when they led the charge to one of science’s greatest achievements: American astronauts landed on the moon in 1969.
There is no shortage of inspirational women to look up to on International Women’s Day. The actions of philanthropic female icons have encouraged millions of people across the globe to give back, spread hope, and lend a voice to those who need it most.
Princess Diana of Wales, commonly referred to as “The People’s Princess”, was renowned for her activism and charity. From her public support of HIV/AIDS patients to her advocacy against landmine usage in Angola, Diana took a stand for those in need – even if it meant going against the grain of what’s expected for a woman of her distinction.
As an activist for educational rights from an early age, Malala Yousafzai was making a name for herself even as a child. After surviving an attempt on her life at the age of 15 in retaliation for her activism, she made it her life’s mission to continue advocating for Pakistani girls to have the right to education. Even when faced with persecution, Malala relentlessly pursued her goal of equal rights for all girls and women.
Channeling the charitable spirits of these philanthropic women is one of the best ways you can celebrate International Women’s Day. Consider volunteering at your local women’s shelter or donating to charities focused on women’s rights and advocacy such as Women’s Aid or the Malala Fund.
The Women In Your Life
Just because a woman doesn’t make newspaper headlines doesn’t mean she isn’t just as remarkable as the aforementioned. The mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, friends, coworkers and community members that make your life special deserve just as much recognition for their hard work and spirit on International Women’s Day.
If you’re stuck on how to honor the women closest to you, start small. Simple measures like notes of appreciation, flowers or cooking her a favorite meal can go a long way in celebrating the women in your life.
Looking to go bigger? Throw a dinner party in your spring garden and invite all the special women you call friends or family. Order take out from women-owned local restaurants, or head to the kitchen and cook up a recipe made famous by a female chef (Julia Child, anyone?).
Before you all dig in, propose a toast honoring all the women and girls in attendance celebrating their accomplishments, as well as the inspirational ladies who have made invaluable contributions in both their individual fields and the world at large. International Women’s Day may only be one day, but the accomplishments of women can be recognized 365 days a year with simple acts of recognition like these.