10 Things to Do For International Women's Day

I read Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' when I was 17, and it changed the way I live my life. It has given me the lifelong habit of taking my work and my creativity seriously, and always, always, creating time and space for my self and my work in the midst of my busy, demanding life as a woman/wife/mother.
I just read (well, actually, skimmed) this Washington Post article, International Women's Day - 10 Ways to Celebrate. First of all, it's in the Lifestyle section. Because, I guess, being a woman is a lifestyle. Then, it includes ideas like sending flowers, eating cupcakes, and wearing red lipstick, for various political reasons and causes. Well, OK, that's fine, I actually like doing all of those things too (although I've switched to mellow berry tones and corals now that I'm over forty.) But anyway, this article inspired me to create my own list of 10 things to do in honour of International Women's Day, and here it is! Enjoy.

  • Say Thanks.  Take the time today to reach out to a woman who has helped make you who you are. Did someone mentor you in your profession? Encourage you in school? Did your Mom raise you right? Is there a living writer, blogger, artist, or activist who has changed your life as a woman? Let them know. Call, write an email, or send a note.
  • Say No Thanks. Is there someone in your life, or your world, who needs to know that their sexist or misogynistic behaviour is unacceptable? Take the time to let them know. Maybe you need to write to a politician or journalist. Maybe you need to have a gentle word with a coworker. Today, instead of just rolling your eyes, write that letter.
  • Support a Cause. There are so many great organizations working to uplift women worldwide. Tap in today and see what you can do to help. Make a donation. Volunteer locally. Participate in a letter writing campaign. I could suggest causes, but you need to act on what is closest to your heart.
  • Speak Out Against Sexism. I mean this literally. Please don't let that comment go by unacknowledged because you don't want to rock the boat. There are so many little opportunities every day to be honest and clear about how the sexist trivia of life affects you. It's OK to draw the line. Maybe you need to tell your partner that you won't watch that TV show anymore because there is so much gratuitous violence against women in it. Maybe you need to remind your friend that it hurts you when she constantly denigrates her own body. Start small, but speak your truth. It helps all of us when you do.
  • Journal or blog about being a woman. What is your experience? What is this world and this society like for you as a woman? What do you love, what do you hate? How do you define slippery words like feminism and femininity?
  • Read other women's work. You could delve into feminist history with Simone de Beauvoir or Virginia Woolf, explore modern classics with Andrea Dworkin or bell hooks, or explore the vibrant world of contemporary feminist writers and bloggers like Meghan Murphy.
  • Change Your Own Mind. None of us is free of ingrained sexism. Can you do some searching self-inquiry and commit to a small change?
  • Organize. Have you not found a local cause or organization, or an internet campaign that addresses a certain women's issue that's important to you? Then you've found your opportunity. You can start small, with a blog or facebook page to raise awareness, or dream big and start a foundation or non-profit society. The important thing is that you start, and today is a great day to begin!
  • Be a Mentor. Young women need help navigating this society successfully. You have wisdom to share. Can you reach out to a younger colleague, a relative, a student, or a friend's daughter?  If you don't have a special personal connection with a mentee, maybe you have a skill or set of ideas you can present or share at a local high school or youth group. Use your imagination and intuition to find ways to connect and help.
  • Stop Hurting Yourself. It pains me to say it, but as women in this culture, we are taught to shame and denigrate ourselves. We are taught to dislike our bodies, distrust our instincts, and to connect with one another in shared self-denigration. You know what I'm talking about. JUST. STOP.
So yeah. Happy International Women's Day. We've got our work cut out for us, so it's a good thing we are so beautiful, strong, courageous, and resilient.

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