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In March, countries and communities celebrate women all over the world. March is Women’s History Month in the United States. And millions celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) specifically toward a goal of promoting gender parity and celebrating the accomplishments and roles of women in our global society. Here are 7 questions answered about IWD, and how your school or nonprofit can participate this year.

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1. What is the ‘Herstory’ of International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day was borne in the early 1900s. Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Austria hosted the first events on March 19, 2011. More than a million women and men campaigned and rallied for women’s rights to work, vote, hold public office, and generally be more equal. The official International Women’s Day website publishes a full timeline.

2. When is International Women’s Day?

March 8, every year. In 1917, women gained the right to vote in Russia. Every March 8 since, Russians celebrate women’s day on March 8. It was formally adopted as the official date for IWD in 1975 by the United Nations.

3. What is the Official Color of International Women’s Day?

Purple.

4. What Organization Hosts International Women’s Day?

None! It is a collective call for action, a truly grassroots initiative for all levels of society to help achieve gender parity. Individuals, nonprofits, governments, and businesses alike are encouraged to participate.

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5. Where Is the Most Up to Date Information on Gender Parity?

UN Women may be the best resource for gender data. Here are just some statistics that they post:

  • Women around the world (even in developed countries like America) perform, on average, 2.5 times more unpaid housekeeping and caregiving work then men.
  • Violence against women costs the world an estimated $12 trillion annually.
  • Women earn 23% less than men (77 cents to the dollar).
  • Women’s parity helps entire economies grow and improves social systems.

international womens day

6. How Can Our Organization Participate in International Women’s Day?

Here are just a few examples of how nonprofits, schools and agencies participate in IWD:

  1. Take part in International Women’s Day school competition to win books and resources about women’s history and women’s empowerment. IWD provides a resource list and school kits to honor the event as well.
  2. Join a women or girl focused giving campaign. Global Giving has a long list of nonprofit partners in its ‘Girls Fund’ for instance, all over the world.
  3. Plan an awareness event through your nonprofit. International Women’s Day has a full guide and resources on how to plan a sponsored event. They have an open competition to submit your event through the end of April as a ‘best practice’ organization.
  4. Write a special newsletter or blog post celebrating women in your organization, or women that have specifically helped your cause. If you work in conservation, you could write a piece on Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson, for instance.
  5. Host a special volunteer luncheon to honor an exemplary woman in your team.

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7. What are Some Funding Resources for Gender Projects?

This is also a great time of year to look for funding for women’s projects. A number of organizations open up special funds or advertise their funds for gender parity projects.

  1. Funds for NGOs has a specific section for Gender and Women, listing dozens of opportunities for nonprofits across the globe.
  2. The UN Foundation prioritizes women’s empowerment as it is a key driver for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Open requests for specific proposals can be found on their website.
  3. The Society for Nonprofits has a decent sized list of women’s funding organizations.
  4. Global Fund for Women’s entire goal is to get funding in the hands of women to support empowerment projects.

Whether you are a nonprofit, a school, or an individual, you can celebrate International Women’s Day and be part of global balance and solidarity! Gender equality helps us all, no matter what your mission or program focus, and can easily be added as a theme to one or all of your programs.

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