From arts and science to politics and civic engagement, there’s no denying that the achievements and influence of women have shaped our society with historic precedent. On March 8, International Women’s Day, nations across the globe 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. And even though artistic history has primarily focused on male creatives, the achievements of these female visionaries are finally getting the recognition they deserve 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.
Science fiction would not be the same without the brilliant imagination of Mary Shelley. In 1816 at the age of 21, she dreamed up the concept for the world’s first true sci-fi novel: Frankenstein. During an era in which female authors were encouraged to stick to the beaten path, Mary Shelley blazed her own literary trail.
If you have an artistic young 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 writing utensils, the possibilities are endless when it comes to celebrating their talents.
Think S.T.E.M. fields 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 space race might’ve been lost if not for the efforts of Katherine Johnson. An extremely talented mathematician, Johnson was an integral part of the team that computed the logistics of the Apollo 11 mission as well as countless other space flights. Her contributions and calculations led to one of science’s greatest achievements when we landed on the moon in 1969.
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.
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 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 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 RAINN 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 and invite all the special women you call friends or family. Order take out from a woman-owned local restaurant, 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.