Mark your calendars: International Women’s Day is March 8. This day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It’s also a day for activism, highlighting gender inequalities and the struggles women uniquely face.
Below, we feature six organizations that are striving for greater women’s empowerment, representation, and health education. Plus, we include tips to help you honor International Women’s Day with your nonprofit or as an individual supporter.
What Is International Women’s Day?
An international day of women has occurred for well over a century. Here’s a quick history:
- In 1909, the Socialist Party of America held the first National Woman’s Day as part of its campaign for female enfranchisement.
- During the 1910 International Socialist Congress in Copenhagen, German activist Clara Zetkin proposed an international version of the holiday.
- The United Nations officially recognized the holiday in 1975.
International Women’s Day is not specific to any country, group, or organization. Instead, it’s a global day to honor women’s contributions to society and highlight the need for gender equality.
This year, the campaign theme is #EachforEqual. The theme is based on the idea that individual actions create large-scale change. By spreading awareness, challenging stereotypes, and celebrating women’s achievements, we can creevate a more gender-equal world.
6 Nonprofits to Celebrate on International Women’s Day
1. Girls Who Code
Mission: Girls Who Code seeks to close the gender pay gap in technology and build the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States.
The future is digital, but fewer than one in five computer science graduates are women. Girls Who Code seeks to change that by empowering girls to become changemakers through tech.
This nonprofit offers opportunities for girls to explore coding in a fun and friendly environment, with programs available from third grade to college. Girls Who Code also fosters a supportive community of peers and role models to help girls learn to see themselves as computer scientists.
2. Bright Pink
Mission: By empowering women to know their risk and proactively manage their health, Bright Pink helps to save lives from breast and ovarian cancer.
Bright Pink takes a multi-pronged approach to breast and ovarian health education, which helps them support women in a few different ways:
- A mix of digital tools and in-person programs educate young women and their healthcare providers, fostering proactive conversations.
- Breast and ovarian cancer genetic testing initiatives help women feel informed and empowered to make thoughtful, supported decisions about their health.
In honor of Women’s History Month in March 2018, Bright Pink used the hashtag #SelfCareandShare to inspire women to prioritize their breast and ovarian health. The nonprofit invited users to use their Assess Your Risk quiz, and measured the progress of the campaign with a live map that tacked participation by state.
3. National Network of Abortion Funds
Mission: The National Network of Abortion Funds seeks to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access across the United States.
Women require greater access to health care, but poverty rates are higher among women than men. This means that health care costs can threaten their health and economic security, and low-income women have historically struggled to access safe abortions. Composed of approximately 70 organizations, the National Network of Abortion Funds helps women access the abortion funds they need. The nonprofit also advocates for cultural and political change to eliminate barriers to abortion access.
4. Days for Girls
Mission: This nonprofit increases global access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions.
In 2008, founder and CEO Celeste Mergens visited an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. She learned that menstruating girls were forced to miss school and remain confined to their rooms because they didn’t have access to feminine hygiene products.
Today, Days for Girls provides menstrual health education and distributes hand-crafted reusable menstrual kits to women and girls that last up to three years. The nonprofit has reached more than 1 million women and girls in over 125 countries, promoting dignity, health and opportunity.
You can support Days for Girls through one of their many volunteer opportunities, by joining a local DfG group to assemble kits, sending in-kind donations, fundraising on their behalf, or making a donation.
5. Strong Women Strong Girls
Mission: This nonprofit empowers girls and women to imagine a broader future by pairing them with female mentors.
According to Strong Women Strong Girls, mentorship for young people has been shown to increase school attendance and participation, lead to stronger self-identity and confidence, and support leadership, civic engagement, and college and career ambitions. For young women in particular, female mentorship is a key way to counter the social pressures that can discourage them from pursuing their goals.
Strong Women Strong Girls provides mentorship programming to more than 1,200 girls, has 13 college chapters and more than 80 program sites across Boston and Pittsburgh, and fosters a network of professional women who volunteer as mentors.
6. Solar Sister
Mission: By supporting African women in rural communities to create sustainable businesses, Solar Sister seeks to improve access to affordable clean energy.
Solar Sister provides services and training that empowers women entrepreneurs and delivers clean energy to homes in off-grid African communities. Solar Sister’s approach has been shown to improve a woman’s household income, health, education, status, and control over resources. To date, Solar Sister has reached 1.5 million people across Africa and kickstarted over 4,000 entrepreneurs.
In honor of International Women’s Day in 2019, Solar Sister profiled a few of those female business owners on a dedicated landing page. Meet Namyaki, a Maasai herder who has been able to use the income from her solar business to buy textbooks for her child, or Ellis, who used her profits to buy a cart and increase her farming output.
How You Can Celebrate International Women’s Day
Whether you’re celebrating as a nonprofit or as an individual supporter, here are a few ways you can honor International Women’s Day, from small actions to big campaigns.
1. Get Social
Strike the #EachforEqual pose with your team and take a photo for social media posts and donor emails. Encourage donors to get involved by striking the pose, tagging you, and using the #EachforEqual hashtag. Repost their post on your social media feeds to spread awareness—both for your nonprofit and International Women’s Day.
2. Host an Event
Here are some ideas to get started:
- An International Women’s Day-themed seminar featuring local speakers
- A film screening on women’s issues (think: Suffragette or Hidden Figures), followed by a group discussion
- A book club featuring a title written by or featuring a pioneering woman (Start with these book recommendations)
3. Get Involved
If your nonprofit doesn’t directly impact women’s issues, take this as an opportunity to start a program within your organization to support local girls and women. Set aside or match funds to donate to a women’s nonprofit, or partner with a nonprofit that supports women during the month of March. For example, organizations local to Boston and Pittsburgh can partner with Strong Women Strong Girls to support their mentorship programs.
Individual supporters can take this time to find a local or national nonprofit to volunteer with or fundraise on behalf of during March, and ideally beyond. We listed a few above to help get you started, but there are so many organizations doing incredible work that we encourage you to talk to friends or do some research to seek out local options as well.
4. Amplify the Women in Your Organization
Whether you work in the nonprofit or for-profit industry, this is the perfect time to celebrate the women on your team. Use blog posts, social media posts, and/or email copy to celebrate their work and achievements. Encourage supporters to do the same and lift up the women in their networks, tagging #EachforEqual or #IWD2020 on social media.
5. Support a Woman-Owned Business
Take this step on your own, or with your entire team. Support a female entrepreneur by actively choosing to shop at a woman-owned business, either online or in-person (or both). Not sure where to start? In honor of Women’s History Month in 2019, Yelp introduced a “women-owned business” attribute for business pages. You can also donate to your local Women’s Business Development Center, which provides programs and services to support female entrepreneurs.
Celebrate International Women’s Day by taking a cue from these organizations. Whether you’re spreading awareness with a social media post or hosting a major fundraising event, you’re making a difference because in the ongoing effort to support gender equality, every action matters. How do you plan on honoring International Women’s Day this year? Let us know on Twitter @Classy.