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How to Celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

International Women’s Day is a day of remembrance and action. In honor of it, we’re giving you some ideas for how you can celebrate and support it, not just today but every day.

But first, let’s answer some of your questions:

what is international womens day
New York City suffrage and labor activist Flora Dodge “Fola” La Follette (center), social reformer and missionary Rose Livingston (right) and a 14-year-old garment industry striker in 1913.

About International Women’s Day 2021

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day (March 8)  is a worldwide celebration of women’s achievements, as well as a day of education, empowerment, and action. Its purpose is to promote gender equality across the globe. It has been observed since 1911.

When is International Women’s Day? 

Women’s Day occurs every year on March 8.

What is the 2021 International Women’s Day theme?

The 2021 theme is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

8 Ways to Celebrate and Support International Women’s Day

1. Enter a Competition

iwc photography competitions

The International Women’s Day website lists an exciting selection of competitions anyone can enter, from photography, to cake decorating and design:

  • Bake a cake: You or your company or nonprofit can design a cake that fits this year’s theme: just snap a photo and send it in. Deadline is ongoing.
  • Photography: Take a photo that represents this year’s theme. For 2020, entries will be accepted between March 1 and 31.
  • Rap: Write a rap centered on this year’s theme and upload your performance to YouTube. Top submissions will be featured on social leading up to the big day. Deadline is ongoing.
  • Street art: Show off your themed community murals on instagram! There are 3 categories you can enter with varying deadlines, so you’ll wanna get an early start.
  • Typography: Celebrate with type! There are 3 categories to enter in 2020 with varying deadlines, and 3 winners chosen worldwide per category. 


2. Host an Event or Party

womens day party

This is a great idea whether you want to put something together for your workplace, community, or with your friends!  The best part: The IWD organization already has the decorations covered, If they’re out of stock, no worries: Just stick to the color purple, the official shade of the day.

Here are some IWD party ideas:

  • Host a corporate party to recognize women employees’ achievements. 
  • Host a community or block party to recognize women’s achievements locally, as well as educate everyone on how they can support gender equality in the neighborhood.
  • Get together with friends and volunteer together, watch movies directed by women, or shop women-owned businesses.
  • Have fun, learn, celebrate, and express gratitude for the women that have brought us here. No budget necessary for that one!

Tip: If you plan to host a community-wide event, you should create a free account on the IWD website. That way, you can publish your event, any anyone searching for events in the area will be able to find yours.

3. Attend an Event 

iwd events

Currently, there are over 400 International Women’s Day events planned for all around the world, with more being added every day. From fun runs to concerts and conferences, there’s something for everyone!

Tip: Traveling to an IWD event? Your travel bookings can help raise funds for women’s nonprofits like Girls Who Code, Tostan, and even your local women’s shelters when you use Giving Assistant. Learn how it works here.

4. Participate in an Edit-a-Thon

iwd edit-a-thons

Did you know? Less than 19% of the biographies on Wikipedia are about women, and an estimated 90% of Wikipedia editors are men. 

But these numbers are improving, largely in part due to Wikipedia “Edit-a-Thons.”

Edit-a-Thons are events where people get together to write and upload articles about women, or update other articles where information about women may be missing, incorrect, or glossed-over. (These efforts extend to content about transgender and non-binary people as well.) 

Consider starting your own Edit-a-thon. To get started, see Wikipedia’s guide: How to run an edit-a-thon for hosting one. Then check out the edit-a-thon tips from 500womenscientists.org and the Society of North Carolina Archivists.

5. Support Women Publishers & Books

women publishers
Acclaimed 19th century author of Middlemarch, George Eliot, was actually Mary Anne Evans. Image Source: Lucy Quintanilla at Mental Floss.

Did You Know?

The famous 19th century author and essayist George Eliot was actually a woman named Mary Ann Evans. And several of R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps books were ghost-written by his wife, Jane Waldhorn.

If your kind of “celebrating” involves a book and some peace and quiet, then read on.

Try one of these 3 riveting books: 

  • Educated: This best-selling memoir is about a woman who grew up in an ultra-religious household, so secluded she didn’t even have a birth certificate, only to make her way out…all the way to Harvard and Cambridge. Tara Westover’s real-life story proves there’s nothing we can’t do.
educated book
  • An American Marriage: A marriage is challenged when Celestial’s husband Roy is put in prison for a crime she knows he didn’t commit. During his 12-year sentence, things change—a lot. Tayari Jones’ novel is a surprising and compassionate exploration of heartbreak, love, and perseverance.
an american marriage
  • Hunger: Roxanne Gay’s memoir isn’t just another woman’s journey towards self-love and body acceptance: It’s about self-awareness. This book serves to teach readers that sometimes the things we are most ashamed of are the things that can bring us together, empower us, and create meaningful, positive change.
hunger book

Other Ways to Help through Reading

rosie revere engineer
  • Buy a new book from women’s publishers. (There are a lot.) Here’s a list from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that includes LGBT+ publishers.
  • Read books about strong girls to your kids. We love the Questioneers’ series with characters like Rosie Revere the Great Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist. (Psst: Shop, save, and donate to women’s causes at Scholastic here.)
  • Create an impromptu book club. Share great stories by inviting friends and family to read along with you. You can even start one online: try ReadingGroup on Reddit.

Raise Donations for Women’s Nonprofits through these Book Retailers

Your book purchases at these brands can result in donations to any nonprofit you love (including local women’s shelters) when you use Giving Assistant:

6. Celebrate Women in Film  

Here’s an easy idea that everyone will enjoy: a movie night celebrating women in film! To help you plan your evening, we’ve shortlisted 7 films directed or written (or both!) that you can stream right away.

Note: The services listed below are streaming these films as of February 2020. To find out what services are streaming these films now, you can use JustWatch.com.

lady bird movie
Still from Ladybird. Image Source: New York Times

Lady Bird, 2017.

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig. (Comedy, Drama)

Loosely inspired by Gerwig’s own adolescence, this tender coming-of-age movie follows Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) as she navigates senior year of Catholic high school in 2002 Sacramento and a complicated relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf). 

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

Certain Women, 2016.

Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt, based on short stories by Maile Meloy. (Drama)

This portrait of the American Northwest by way of three resolute women features careful, lived-in performances from Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and frequent Reichardt collaborator Michelle Williams. 

Where to Stream: IFC Films Unlimited via Amazon Prime (with free 14-day trial of IFC Films Unlimited), Apple TV.

13th, 2016.

Directed by Ava DuVernay. (Documentary)
After the success of Selma, her biopic about Martin Luther King, Jr., Ava DuVernay made this powerful documentary about mass incarceration in the United States — featuring notable black feminist thinkers and civil rights advocates Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander. 

Where to Stream: Netflix

the babadook movie
Still from The Babadook. Image Source: NPR

The Babadook, 2015.

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent. (Horror)

A story of single motherhood, grief, and the supernatural, this unconventional and frightening indie movie put Jennifer Kent rightfully on the map as a voice to follow. 

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

The Bling Ring, 2013.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola. (Drama)
Based on Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” this stylish movie takes a morally ambiguous look at a series of high-profile celebrity burglaries carried out by a group of Los Angeles county teenagers. A great turn from Emma Watson! 

Where to Stream: Netflix, Amazon Prime

the obvious child movie
Still from Obvious Child. Image Source: The New Republic

Obvious Child, 2014.

Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre. (Comedy, Drama)
Jenny Slate stars in this delightfully candid romcom about a stand-up comedian who decides to get an abortion after getting pregnant from a one-night stand. Earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations! 

Where to Stream: Netflix, Kanopy

winters bone movie
Still from Winter’s Bone. Image Source: NPR

Winter’s Bone, 2010.

Directed by Debra Granik, written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini. (Drama, Mystery)
This intense mystery drama about an impoverished family in the Ozarks gave Jennifer Lawrence her breakout role, earning her a Best Actress nomination at the 83rd Oscars. 

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

7. Shop Women-Owned Brands  

According to the advocacy organization Women Owned, as of 2017, over 39% of U.S. businesses are owned by women, and over 90% of women-owned business revenue goes back into families and communities (compared to 40% for men). 

Yet women-owned businesses account for only 4.2% of overall business revenue!

What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than by challenging that statistic and shopping women-owned brands.

Charitable Shopping Tip: Your purchases at any of these brands will benefit  women-focused and gender-parity causes—including community organizations at work near you. Join Giving Assistant before you shop (it’s free) and makes it easy to support equality with your online purchases.

8. Donate to Women’s Nonprofits 

A no-brainer, sure, but with over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., maybe you’ve had a hard time narrowing down your choices? We’ve put together a list of 7 Nonprofit Organizations Supporting Women that you can donate to.

Consider learning more about your local neighborhood organizations. Try search engines like GreatNonprofits.org and Volunteer Match to find and vet local nonprofits. Try a quick Google search (or call-out on Facebook) to find women’s shelters, LGBTQ+ youth organizations, or other important initiatives in your community that you can support today.

One of the easiest ways to give back is to shop with Giving Assistant. Our platform allows you to support over 1.5 million 501c3 nonprofits with your free cash back. It’s simple to join and it’s very likely your local charity is available to donate to.

Small Things Add up in Big Ways

The bottom line: You don’t have to do anything big to celebrate International Women’s Day, but little things throughout the year can add up.

Awareness is half the battle, and all big movements started small. So party, watch, read, talk, share, shop responsibly, and love one another: whatever you do will matter.

Thank you for all you do to support and encourage women!

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