10 Insanely Easy Ways to Celebrate International Women's Day
International Women's Day is coming up on March 8, and I wish the United States made a bigger deal about it. (As Rene Lynch noted a couple years ago in the L.A. Times: "World Celebrates; We Get Google Doodle." Fortunately, working at BlogHer makes one a pro at celebrating women in a hurry. Here's a list so that no matter how busy you are, you can make sure March 8, 2014 does not go unmarked.
1. Go home early. I'm serious. You are a woman and you probably work too hard and if you don't then your friends likely do, so invite your favorite overworked woman or three to go home early too and just spend some time validating each other. I'm doing it and I never leave early. If I want to interpret "women's day" as moi -- that's entirely valid; it's my day, too. And if I want to interpret "international" as French and make everyone wear striped shirts and talk like Pepe Le Pew I will do so and you will come weez me to zee Casbah and we will make beautiful music togezair.
March 08, 2013 - Kathmandu, Nepal - Nepalese women making handmade carpet at carpet factory during International Women's Day in Khokana village. (Image: © Sunil Pradhan/ZUMAPRESS.com)
2. Make dinner plans: Cook recipes by women bloggers and/or patronize restaurants with woman chefs and owners. If you're wondering whether it still matters, note that there were zero "goddesses" in TIME's "Gods of Food" cover story a few months ago. Read chef and author Gabrielle Hamilton's brilliant response in the New York Times. And don't miss this classic post on The Feminist Kitchen on society, the media, and the lack of women chefs.
3. Now, read some awesome posts on International Women's Day.
This year, I really love Being a woman in tech: “Psycho bitch” helpful but not sufficient by The Julia Group; this cool series on women in history by Hello Ladies; and Dying to Live, a new report by the United Nations sharing Indian women's voices about "female infanticide, son preference and violence against women." (Actually, everything by UNWomen is a pretty interesting read.) And don't miss the incredible International Activist Scholarship recipients -- they inspire me every year.
4. What say you write a post yourself? And tell me about it in the comments? The U.N.'s theme this year is "Equality for women is progress for all."
5. Fist pump. We have a long way to go, for sure (especially in the boardroom). But we need to celebrate our victories. Over the past year, we've noted that woman have gained in some STEM fields. A record number of women senators chair a record number of powerful committees. millennial women are nearing income parity., and we're still narrowing the gender gap worldwide.
March 8, 2013 - Manila, Philippines - Filipino Muslim women attend a protest rally in commemoration of International Women's Day in Manila, Philippines, Friday, March 8, 2013. International Women's Day was marked in the country with protests decrying unabated attacks on women's economic and political rights. (Image: © Ezra Acayan/ZUMAPRESS.com)
6. Geek out. The Ada Initiative wants to "get women more involved in open technology and culture in ways that shape the technology and culture—project leaders, speakers, architects, editors, developers, and writers. One of the benefits of women's participation is in creating or influencing projects to meet women's needs and desires. This can only be done if women are in leadership or design roles." Yes. Maybe it's time to make a pledge to learn to code?
7. Click and give. To whatever organization you like. I like The Afghan Women's Writing Project, Name It Change It, Violence UnSilenced, The Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media and pretty much everything listed at Half the Sky-- but that's me. How about you?
ACCRA, March 8, 2013 A nurse measures a volunteer's blood pressure before her donating blood in Accra, capital of Ghana, on March 8, 2013. MamaYe (Good mother) Campaign, which is run by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) in partnership with the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, organized a blood donation activity on the International Women's Day in Accra to raise Ghanaians' awareness of donating blood to save the lives of mothers and their newborns. Statistics from the Ghana Health Service reveal that loss of blood during delivery is the leading cause of maternal deaths in Ghana. (Image: © Shao Haijun/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com)
8. Have a party. I'm serious. Let's have a party. According to the official IWD site, this day is an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. In China, Madagascar, and Nepal, it's a holiday for women only. According to IWD, "the tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries, IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers."
9. Fine. You live outside the Bay Area and can't party with me. Boo. Stay in and watch a movie made by women, then.
Yes, it still matters! We've seen much conversation -- and some progress -- for women in the entertainment industry this past year. Frozen was the first woman-directed movie to make $1 billion. It's reported that Hollywood is making more superhero films starring women. And it turns out that female-led films make more money -- just as Cate Blanchett said when accepting her Best Actress Oscar this year.
While those are encouraging stories, lead actresses still get less screen time than lead actors. The annual Celluloid Ceiling report for the past year shows that the film industry has been in a state of "gender inertia" for the past 16 years. Just look at these statistics -- Only 16% of all "directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 (domestic) grossing films" last year were women -- that's actually down two points from the year before and down one point from 1998 (the high was at 19%, in 2001).
What's your favorite woman-directed film? Can you name one from the past year besides Frozen? (Full confession: I could not. I am great about reading books by women and suck at films by women. How about you?)
Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, in period dress at the end of a walk to Parliament on International Women's Day 2013. (Image: © Matt Cetti-Roberts/London News Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com)
10. And after you're done celebrating, plan to step up for a better tomorrow. For inspiration, check out BlogHer Co-founder Elisa Camahort Page's amazing TedX talk on how women bloggers are rewriting history:
And if you're going to be in the Bay Area on March 8, I can't think of a better way to get inspired to step up than by seeing BlogHer CEO and Co-founder Lisa Stone speak at a Women's Day event called Women As Catalysts for Change, on the panel "How Women Lead in the 21st Century." (You can get $25 off registration with the promo code: BlogHer, and you know that's going to be a full day of pure power.)
Are you writing, tweeting, donating to women's causes on March 8? Why or why not, and which ones? I want to know!
Note: I originally wrote this post in 2012, but have been thoroughly updating it each year since. Because we should celebrate EVERY year. Happy International Women's Day! -- Julie