1. Take the day off.
In countries where the day is a public holiday, workers get the day off to celebrate. Armenia, Burkina Faso, Mongolia and Kazakhstan are a few of the countries that are taking the day off. In some countries, such as China, only women get the day off.
2. Give flowers to women.
Flowers are a symbol of International Women’s Day, and many countries celebrate by decorating with flowers, or giving them to women as presents. In Italy, yellow mimosas are popular. Russians give a variety of flowers, including red roses. In Hanoi, Vietnam, it’s not just boyfriends and husbands giving flowers to the women in their lives, but also bosses and colleagues.
3. Donate money to women’s causes.
In the U.S., micro-lending non-profits such as Kiva are campaigning to remind women to help women around the world by investing in their futures. Kiva.org/women will connect you to women who need loans, and skincare company Dermalogica is sponsoring 4,000 $25 loans for lenders who register today.
International Women’s Day was born of activism — the holiday was founded in 1910, when a German woman named Clara Zetkinproposed that every country devote a day to the needs and political demands of women. While in many countries, the holiday has taken on the sentimental status of days like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, women around the world use March 8 as an opportunity to fight for political freedom, equal pay and working rights, among other causes. The day was marked by protests in Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Palestine, among other countries.
5. Wear red lipstick.
A marketing agency is encouraging women across America to wear red lipstick in honor of International Women’s Day for the “Rock the Lips” campaign. Style Blog raised some questions yesterday about how effective this would be as an awareness-raiser for the cause of International Women’s Day (and about the agency’s plan to team up with a cosmetics brand) but women who want to celebrate femininity can submit photos of their pouts to the Rock the Lips Tumblr.
6. Stand on a bridge.
“Join Me on the Bridge” is a campaign for women’s equality that started with Rwandan and Congolese women, who met on a bridge joining their two countries as a demonstration that women could build bridges of peace. This year, women will march on bridges in London, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and New York for International Women’s Day.
7. Check out some art.
In Pakistan, theatrical performances, poetry readings, songs, films and a two-month long visual art show will be a part of the celebration. A friend living in Afghanistan reports that in her village, speeches and songs were performed, and the highlight was a play put on by some teenage boys “encouraging men to be thoughtful when marrying off their daughters.” In Washington D.C., it would be a good day to patronize the National Museum of Women in the Arts, currently featuring an exhibition by French female painters.
8. Eat a cupcake.
Free cupcakes for women at select bars and restaurants in the U.S. and England may seem great, but not all women are too happy about this one. Claire Melamed wrote about cupcake feminism for International Women’s Day: “Cupcakes are just so twee-ly, coyly, ‘ooh no I really shouldn’t'-ly, pink and fluffily, everything that I think feminism is not. It’s feminism-lite, feminism as consumption and ‘me time’ (grr), rather than feminism as power and politics and equal pay.”
9. Defeat sexual harassment.
British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a Council of Europe convention promising necessary legislative measures” against anyone committing “verbal, non-verbal or physical sexual harassment” in honor of International Women’ Day, Yahoo reports. The bill means that women can walk to work without having to worry about street harassment, which could range from stalking to wolf-whistling.
10. Look back — and forward.
We’ve come a long way since the first International Women’s Day more than 100 years ago, when women in America did not yet have the right to vote. But events of the last few weeks — as politics and women’s concerns about reproductive health have collided in the Virginia statehouse,on the campaign trail and among media personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh, who caused outrage with his remarks disparaging Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke — prove that there is still work to be done. That’s just in America. Around the world, women’s needs are even greater. International Women’s Day will show you how to help.