Why do we celebrate IWD?
International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 18, 2018, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s also a call to action for making bold moves on gender parity. The world has been celebrating International Women’s Day for over a century now, with the first IWD spearheaded by the Suffragettes themselves in 1911.
To celebrate, I’m highlighting some truly incredible women, many you may not have heard of, who paved the way for today’s modern woman. If you’ve ever used birth control or wi-fi, used makeup or voted, you might want to thank…
In 1918, Marie Stopes published a sex manual, Married Love, which brought the subject of birth control into the public conversation. You can imagine how controversial this book was – and how influential!
Marie also founded the first birth control clinic in Britain and edited the newsletter Birth Control News, which gave much-needed practical advice and never shied away from being refreshingly explicit when necessary.
And did I mention Marie was a campaigner for women’s rights and the first female academic on the faculty of the University of Manchester?
When World War I broke out, Helena moved from her native Poland to New York City, where she opened a cosmetics salon. It soon grew into the Helena Rubinstein Incorporated cosmetics company and rivaled cosmetics giants like Elizabeth Arden.
In 1928, Helena sold the American business to Lehman Brothers for $7.3 million ($105 million in 2018!). After the Great Depression, she bought back the low-value stock for less than $1 million and eventually turned the shares into multi-million dollar assets. She built salons and outlets in almost a dozen U.S. cities.
Helena became one of the world’s richest women but still loved taking a bagged lunch to work every day.
She was a British political activist and powerhouse leader of the British suffragette movement. She was instrumental not only in helping women win the right to vote but in popularizing women’s voting as a concept to begin with! Emmeline was known for her militant tactics and outside-the-box thinking, which made her controversial.
In 1999, Time named Emmeline one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
A genius physicist and chemist, she developed the theory of radioactivity – and even invented the term! Marie went on to found the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which are still major medical research centers today. During World War I, she developed mobile radiography units to provide X-ray services to hospitals out in the field.
Marie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person (and only woman) to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. Phew!
An Austrian-born American actress and inventor, she and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes during World War II.
Fast-forward to today, and the principles of their work have been incorporated into Bluetooth technology and are very similar to methods used in modern-day Wi-Fi.
Now that we’ve given a nod to just a few of our foremothers, let’s celebrate the women in our lives today!
5 Things You Can Do To Support The Women In Your Life.
Encourage love, friendship and mentorship between women.
Are you as tired as I am of women being pitted against each other? This doesn’t have to happen. When we choose not to cut each other down, we’re much stronger. Now more than ever, let’s all remember that we each can hold different viewpoints while still supporting each other.
Have authentic conversations.
When someone really listens and engages in an authentic conversation, we can’t help but feel important. And when it’s appropriate, share your own experience.
Advocate for zero tolerance.
Not only can we stand against bullies and abusive talk among women – we can also tune out media that glorifies mean-women.
Stay up-to-date on women’s issues and current events.
We all do better when we stay informed. It’s time to go beyond our Facebook feeds and seek out credible information. Make the most of your commute by catching up on the news or reading/listening to a book about women’s issues.
Volunteer to work with young women in your community
Tomorrow’s female voices are standing right in front of us. Let’s volunteer our time and skills to help them succeed.
What else can we do?
I’d love to hear your take in the comments! What are your favorite ways to support the women in your life?