Mark your calendars! International Women’s Day 2019 is coming up on March 8, which means it’s time to reflect on how we’ve been impacted by the women in our lives, for women to unapologetically celebrate themselves, to learn how to empower women to move forward and to recognize there’s still work to be done in the pursuit of gender parity—a problem that continues to obstruct women all over the world and in all areas of life.
This year’s theme #BalanceforBetter focuses on gender balance in business, a topic we’ve been championing with Women in Localization, an organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women in our industry. How can you help achieve balance in your industry? Here are five ideas, with a little inspiration from events around the world.
1. Attend an event
You might remember a few rallies and breakthroughs that made headlines in 2018: Spain’s first nationwide “feminist” strike, the newspaper price cuts for women in France, and the millions of women who gathered to march for equality.
Whether big or small, from conferences to fun runs, any type of event has the power to raise awareness. Our US offices are hosting two live workshops about empowering female leaders and diversity in leadership and negotiation. Around the world, you’d find everything from the UK-based virtual event UNITE 2030 to a motorcycle rally in India.
Not sure what’s going on in your area? See the International Women’s Day website for a full list of published events.
2. Join a Lean In Circle
As for hosting your own event, try a Lean In Circle: a group that meets regularly to share advice, gain skills and build community. More than 42,000 Lean In Circles span 173 countries and make a positive impact on 85% of their members, according to Lean In, which is joining forces with IWD this year to help organizations commit to the #BalanceforBetter campaign with a workshop called 50 Ways to Fight Bias.
The issues you discuss in your own Circle might depend on your industry, employees and customers, or might just support advancement of women in general. In our Circle, Women at RWS Moravia, the idea is to meet every two months or so to share how we overcome workplace challenges and help others improve their professional path.
3. Support Dress for Success
Women living in poverty face inequitable barriers to employment no matter where in the world they live—and there are many reasons why. One organization, Dress for Success, is a nonprofit whose mission is “to empower women to achieve economic independence” by providing them with donated professional attire. The idea is to give away gently-used clothes to women who otherwise lack the means to access them—to wear to their next interview, for example.
What’s interesting about the nonprofit, which operates in 30 countries, is that it organizes not only clothing drives, but also confidence-building programs. Even if it’s not quite time to declutter your wardrobe, there are other ways you can get involved.
4. Give a gift
Rather than mark IWD a national holiday, many countries prefer to observe the cause by showering women with flowers. In Bulgaria and Romania, children give gifts to their mothers and grandmothers as they would on Mother’s Day. In Italy, it’s customary for men to give women mimosas (the flower, not the drink!). Flower-giving is particularly huge in Russia, too, where women exchange bouquets with each other and, according to the New York Times, florists sell an average of 150,000 roses.
Flowers (and chocolates) are customary gifts in the US too, of course. They might be “typically female” gifts, but hey—there’s no right or wrong way to show how much you appreciate your mom, partner or best girlfriend.
5. Join the conversation
Ever since the #MeToo movement of 2017, International Women’s Day was the most-discussed moment on Facebook in both 2017 and 2018 across 190 countries. IWD sparked interesting conversations on Twitter and Instagram, too—not just about the day itself, but about a variety of gender-related issues.
Today @nytimes introduces Overlooked, a project to write the obituaries of the people who never received them https://t.co/w8Mady1wdn Overlooked begins with 15 obituaries of women, in honor of International Women’s Day: https://t.co/7J0N9Cl5Tc
— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) March 8, 2018
This year, social media will be just as powerful a platform—for brands and consumers, women and men alike—to nudge each other to take action. The prompt: how will you accelerate gender parity in the workplace? Use the hashtag #BalanceforBetter and follow IWD’s social media accounts for simple ways to participate.
— Women’s Day (@womensday) February 28, 2019