The month of March and International Women’s Day is dedicated to remembering the glass-ceiling shattering suffragists, visionaries, and trailblazing women who have fought for equality on behalf of women today, and women of the future.
Whether you’re a march on Washington activist, a low key petition-signing advocate for equality, or just venturing into your celebration of Women’s History Month for the first time, here are some of our ideas for how to honor the progress the women’s rights movement has made and how to support the goals of the movement today.
Women’s History Month Ideas
1. Support Female Entrepreneurs
Women make up close to half of the U.S. labor market and, in 2019, over 35% of all women in the U.S. had completed a four-year degree or more. Yet, this achievement and representation do not translate proportionately to entrepreneurship.
A study from 2016 concluded that women are about half as likely as their male counterparts to start a new business. For women who do start businesses, when comparing men and women entrepreneurs, women’s businesses tend to be:
- Smaller on average
- Financed at a lower rate
- Less profitable
- Slower to grow
- In female-typed industries, such as retail and interpersonal care
Only 7% of CEOs on the fortune 500 list today are female. Yet studies have shown that female leadership can create resilience in crisis. Despite extreme underrepresentation in the financial sector, for example, women-led banks received substantial praise in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and many even suggested that if women existed more in the industry, the crisis may have looked very different.
In the last two decades, the number of female-owned companies increased 114%. Women-owned businesses generate $1.9 trillion in revenue and employ 9.4 million people, which makes them an essential part of our economy. Increased opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the last two decades have yielded incredible results, promising that the evolution of capitalism could be rooted in women-owned and run businesses.
Supporting women-owned businesses means lending your support to address some of the challenges the 2016 study identified. By supporting the women contributing to our economic health, we chip away walls that block more women from joining them.
2. Read Books By Female Authors
Books are an important influencer for how we think about our society and culture now, and how we will reflect on it in the future. So, it’s important that authors represent diverse perspectives, offering a full picture commentary on how the world works.
Over 80% of the most popular novels were written by men. Of course, the exclusion of women historically in the industry certainly influences this dominance.
In this realm, women have made a lot of progress in recent decades. The NYTimes bestseller list is one way of tracking disparities in literature. In 30 years, female authors went from accounting for 25% of books on the Best Seller List to about 48%.
Still, a stark gender gap still exists depending on the genre of book we consider. For example, 94% of the best-selling business books were written by men. At a time when the world is having to reckon with the impact and effects of inequality of doing business as usual, we need diverse perspectives and input on how business can develop more sustainably going forward.
Women continue to contribute great works of literature like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other navigates the jarringly different experiences of twelve mostly Black women orbiting London over a few decades. Angie Cruz’s latest novel Dominicana follows Ana, a young immigrant from the Dominican Republic whose experience living in New York City isn’t anything as she imagined during the 1960s.
The power of storytelling transcends language and borders. This month, celebrate literary works by women who encourage you to step out of your comfort zone or guide you as you dive deeper into your interests.
3. Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to hear conversations about an array of topics you might not ordinarily come into contact with. They provide an informal commentary of the world around us.
While women make up about half of podcast listeners, headlines at the end of 2020 reported that only 21% of Top-Charting Shows Have a Female Host.
So why does this matter and what does it mean?
Of course, women-hosted podcasts can cover much-needed topics that are female-specific, but it’s important to have female voices on non-gendered topics as well.
Similar to the book situation, podcasts provide commentary and start conversations on the world as it exists today. It impacts how we think about the world, what issues we consider, and how much weight we give those issues when we are given a single lens to view it through.
Supporting women offering their voice to the public empowers more women to see their voice as a potential contribution to the broader conversations we encounter each day. We want women to feel like important candidates for leading conversations, so celebrate the ones out there doing just that.
Here are some of our favorite podcasts hosted by women that address pressing issues like the wage gap, menstrual health, and ecofeminism, while amplifying the missions of fellow women in the world doing changemaking work.
The episodes of Stuff Mom Never Told You are researched-based discussions that explore what it means to identify as female and how current events impact the female experience. They also dig into key moments of women’s history.
Hosted by the co-founders of Brightly.eco, the Good Together Podcast explores hot topics in sustainability like the circular economy, plant-based eating, and how to green your finances.
4. Get to Know Women in Politics
I love the idea that women shouldn’t be political leaders because they are too emotional…a quick look around at today’s male leaders will refute that concern quite easily.
Having representation in public service is important because women make up about half of the world’s population. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for public servants to understand fully and legislate on how to best provide for the needs of a population with a different lived experience.
According to the United Nations, however, 119 countries have never had a woman leader. It’s imperative that females have the resources and ability to run for any office. Like in business, leadership behaviors most often adopted by women have shown to support highest levels of resilience in crisis and post-crisis situations. Look no further than Jacinda Ardern’s masterful handling of the Covid crisis in New Zealand or the leadership for the modernization of the U.S. climate response provided by women in the U.S. Congress.
The 117th Congress (the one we’re living in as of 2021) has the most women between the House of Representatives and the Senate than ever before, but it’s still nowhere near equal. Just 144 out of 539 seats are taken by women in Congress and even less by women of color. This isn’t reflective of the general population and you’d think we would have made more progress in the hundred-plus years since 1916 when Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress.
In 2020, the U.S. elected Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President. Get to know Kamala’s journey to the White House and learn about your local women in politics.
5. Brush Up on Current Issues & Take Action
Where voices are absent, so is advocacy. For example, should female-only products be taxed?
The argument is of course more nuanced than just “Women are being taxed unfairly!” But, important to the conversation is that most states offer tax exemptions for essential products. Still, menstrual products don’t make the cut.
Menstrual products are tax-exempt in Minnesota, Illinois, and five other states on the east coast, and some states don’t have sales taxes at all, so of course they aren’t taxed there either.
The question begged in this debate, however, is who decided whether menstrual products were “essential products”? While they may not be for a man, women representatives may have a different perspective.
Join the Tax Free Period movement to learn if your state has a tax on menstrual care products and how you can join the conversation around this and other gender-based legislation.
Not only do women pay more for everyday care products, but they also have the gender wage gap to fight. White women in the United States are paid 82 cents on the dollar compared to white men. Black women are paid only 62 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and Latinas only 55 cents. Where race and ethnicity intersect with gender, women’s earnings fall in along that spectrum.
Because of this pay gap, women have a harder time repaying loans, and they receive less in social services like Social Security benefits. To fight these modern-day discriminatory acts against women, visit the American Association of University Women’s site for information on how to negotiate salaries and know your rights in the workplace.
6. Celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg
An icon and American hero, we can’t possibly say enough about how Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to reduce discrimination against women on the basis of sex in the U.S. and make women’s rights a reality. In her long legal history, Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeatedly advocated for equal pay. She was the second woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, and she also fought for equal rights among marginalized groups like people of the LGBT community, undocumented people, and disabled people.
We lost Ruth in 2020, but her legacy lives on and she still serves as a role model for many. Celebrate the notorious RBG this Women’s History Month by checking out her documentary to hear how she led the fight for women’s equality in the eyes of the law. Or, join the Ellevate Network. Ellevate is a global community for women employees fostering gender equality and employee engagement in the workplace.
7. Support a Women’s Nonprofit Organization
Whether you’re passionate about saving the planet, closing the wage gap, or increasing access to women’s health services, we guarantee there’s a nonprofit organization working to keep women in the conversation.
There are so many ways to get involved in nonprofits that are supporting women. While volunteering your time or making monetary donations are the two most obvious ways to get involved, simply participating in the conversation, sharing the organization’s mission, offering your connections, or signing petitions are wonderful ways to make an immediate impact today.
Here are some of our favorite nonprofits fighting for women’s equality:
She Should Run
She Should Run recognizes and motivates more women to run for office. Take the She Should Run quiz to see how you can help support women running for office.
Home Storytellers is run by a father-daughter team and sheds light on solutions-oriented refugee stories through film. Their work raises funds and awareness for organizations fighting for long-lasting change for families, all through impactful stories.
Planned Parenthood has been advocating for women’s reproductive and sexual health since its founding in 1916. With chapters across the country and a women’s health clinic in most cities, it’s easy to get involved right in your own community.
8. Write a Thank You Note
One of the simplest ways to celebrate women’s history month is to thank the women in your life who have inspired you. Whether it’s a homemade card sent to gal pals living a few states over or a love note for the lady across the street, celebrating the women in your life who have helped you become who you are is a wonderful way to celebrate the month. Men and women alike—most of us have some women to thank!
9. Watch TED Talks By Women
If you’re looking for new insights into the world during National Women’s History Week (or any week for that matter) TED talks are short videos where speakers share a story, advice, or research with the goal of improving the world. Check out this collection of incredible talks from thought-provoking women.
Soraya Chemaly tackles the emotion of anger and how women are conditioned to avoid it.
“The issue is that societies that don’t respect women’s anger don’t respect women.”
Meera Vijayann calls for action against gender-based violence in her TED Talk and it starts with women’s voices.
“You see, no one ever tells you that true empowerment comes from giving yourself the permission to think and act.”
Angela Lee Duckworth’s concept of grit has become a staple for social entrepreneurs everywhere.
“Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”
Brené Brown’s research on intangible concepts like shame and vulnerability has created space to explore self-love.
“Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”
10. Paint in Honor of Female Artists
Renowned female artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo redefined the ways in which we see the world around us. To celebrate women’s history month, take some time to sit with a pad and paint or notebook and pen. Design with something in mind, or nothing in mind. Embrace Georgia’s advice: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
11. Watch Films About Famous Women
The best way to honor history is to understand it. Learn about the women who cracked the glass ceiling or completely shattered in all sectors of life.
Hidden Figures tells the story of the three Black women who did the math to get the first American into space. If you’re more into documentaries, check out this short documentary, where Rosa Parks explains her beliefs in the civil rights movement. RBG will just about motivate anyone to go to law school.
And, when you come across stories of big achievements, even if men sit at the forefront, do a little investigating into what unsung heroes contributed to those achievements such as colleagues, partners, storytellers and journalists. Many women lay just on the fringe of the story where history failed to shine the spotlight.
12. Go on a Run
Girls on the Run is a nonprofit that focuses on empowering young girls through running and after-school programming. By integrating mindfulness and mental health into physical health, Girls on the Run has had an enormous impact on the lives of young girls. 97% of girls reported that they were able to elevate skills like conflict resolution and intentional decision-making through their program with Girls on the Run.
The organization is always seeking mentors and volunteers to participate in organizing their 5K races for the girls. Check out their site to see how you can get involved in your area or share their work on Twitter or Facebook.
13. Amplify Female Musicians
One of the ways to celebrate Women’s History Month is to simply listen. From the historical greats like Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald to the pop sensations Beyoncé and Madonna, women are an essential part of the music industry. There’s no shortage of sexual harassment and sexism in the industry. Taylor Swift has often used her voice to express her frustration with misogyny. Nicki Minaj shook up the rap music scene, which was a largely male-dominated genre, while Cardi B just became the first female rapper to have a diamond song since it sold more than 10 million copies.
Female artists are shattering stereotypes and using their platforms to speak out against injustices. This Women’s History Month, celebrate the accomplishments of female artists by picking a theme for the day, streaming their music, and dancing in their honor.
14. Go Virtual
Celebrations for women’s history month are taking place all over the internet. Check out the National Museum for Women In the Arts’s online collection on their site, featuring works from incredibly talented female artists. Or, visit an online exhibition from the National Women’s History Museum to get a history lesson in some of the world’s most inspiring trailblazers, from Harriet Tubman to Maria Tallchief and more.
You can event host a conversation on Civic Dinner’s virtual platform. Building community around gender issues and having an event open to discussion about women’s history could be an interesting way to connect with new friends.
15. Get Inspired By Women in Business
On the Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Podcast, Grow Ensemble has hosted dozens of wildly successful female entrepreneurs. This Women’s History Month, listen in to these changemaking episodes to gain insight into the entrepreneurial mindset as women.
Lindsey McCory and her sister Alison Webster are on a mission to make it simple for consumers to reduce plastic use through their company, Plaine Products.
Shamini Dhana is the founder of Dhana Inc, a circular fashion clothing company. Listen to her episode to learn about the realities of fast fashion and the communities changing the game for fashion.
It’s no secret that plastic straws are bad. Emma Rose Cohen was tired of seeing plastic straws used and disposed of flippantly, so she designed an iconic foldable, portable, stainless steel straw.
Rahama Wright gave an honest account of the journey to building her social enterprise Shea Yeleen. Her episode illuminates the reality of building a business and shows how one person can be a force for good.
16. Brush Up on the Sustainable Development Goals
In times where the news is frightening and everyone is a bit on edge, a light at the end of the tunnel can be found in the ideality of the Sustainable Development Goals, put forth by the United Nations.
While Goal number 5 most explicitly addresses the needs of women around the world, focusing specifically on gender equality, gender plays a role in many others as well.
Access to a quality education is the fourth goal, where a tangible divide lies between female and male students. 132 million women and girls aren’t in school, with poverty, teacher limitations, violence, and child marriage all factors that inhibit getting an adequate education or even enrolling in existing education programs impossible for many girls.
Malala Yousafzai, author of I Am Malala and the world’s youngest Nobel prize laureate is fighting for equal access to education to give girls the chance for a better future through access to class.
When you’re looking to donate financially, volunteer, learn, or advocate in any way, take a look at the SDGs to see how those efforts can support global initiatives working to empower women around the globe.
How can you do more beyond Women’s History Month to help women and girls receive adequate education in your community?
17. Recognize, Share & Uplift
One of the ways to celebrate Women’s History Month beyond March is to connect and uplift an inspiring woman in your life. If you’re a mother to a young girl or have a niece, how can you share a women’s history with her? Help her recognize that National Women’s History Week and International Women’s Day are celebrations of the ideas, experiences, and shared history of females around the globe with these activities.
Additionally, try to step out of your comfort zone this Women’s History Month and lean into the unknown. Write a blog post, make a proclamation on social media accounts, or question the news. We can all be doing more to elevate progress for every woman and girl and being informed while uplifting one another is part of that!
Closing: Celebrating Women’s History Month Beyond March
Stacy Ambrams. Amelia Earhart. Sally Ride. AOC. And many of our podcast guests. The list could go forever, but the profound impact of these women on the progression of society is an incredible inspiration. Their achievements paved the way for the women after them to grasp their dreams and make them a reality.
March is Women’s History Month, but the most wonderful part about these Women’s History Month ideas is that the celebration and observance don’t need to stop on April 1st. Honoring women in history and supporting women and girls of the present are practices everyone can do all year long.
Sustainable Workplaces Manager & Writer
Jackie is the Sustainable Workplaces Manager at Urban Green Lab, a sustainability education nonprofit in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s passionate about connecting people with actionable ways to make a positive impact on the environment. She graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Jackie worked in the nonprofit world in Washington D.C. for Ashoka and the National Building Museum.
Jackie enjoys hiking with her rescue dog, finding craft breweries, and traveling the globe in search of plant-based eats.