The first time I heard of International Women’s Day (IWD) was in 2007, while I was researching holidays for a work project. I was inspired by the idea of it — a March 8 holiday that celebrates women! IWD was popular, it seemed, everywhere around the world except the US. (Of course.) Nevertheless, I created a thoughtful post on my personal FB page with a photo of a rose, wishing all my friends a lovely IWD. And…I got five likes. Apparently few of my friends had heard of IWD either and they didn’t much care.
Flash forward 12 years, and oh, how times have changed. With an internationally renewed focus on women’s rights, the #MeToo movement, and the rise of social media, IWD is everywhere.
Especially in these politically unstable times, an FB post wishing women a “Happy International Women’s Day!” won’t be enough to support and commemorate women’s efforts toward equality. Instead, here are three better ideas for you to observe IWD in a truly meaningful – and memorable – way.
1. Honor and thank the women in your life with flowers.
When I first launched my flower studio in Philadelphia in the mid-2000s, the only people buying flowers every year on March 8 were the Polish and Russian men who lived in the neighborhood. These sharp-faced gentlemen, clad in their heavy black leather jackets and Dad jeans, would buy up my entire stock of roses, tulips, and carnations before I even poured my first cup of coffee. Wait…didn’t we just celebrate Valentine’s Day? What were these men doing buying flowers again?
It turns out that,in many Eastern European countries, IWD is a national holiday and businesses and institutions are closed. Europeans do give their significant others flowers on Valentine’s Day and on Mother’s Day. But while the former celebrates romantic love, and the latter celebrates Mother figures, IWD commemorates all women — whether they have lovers or not, and whether they’ve given birth or not.
Because women are symbolically associated with flowers, it’s not surprising that giving flowers on IWD is the thing to do. Across Europe, men – and increasingly, women – purchase individual stems and large, colorful bouquets to give just about every woman they know. IWD is one of the biggest floral days on the whole European continent, with millions of blooms received by women in a single day! Asia, Africa, and Latin America are in on the flowers as well, with people passing out stems to friends and strangers alike. Flowers have become a powerful symbol for women rising and showing their strength and beauty.
So should you join in with the rest of the world and say “I see you” to the women in your life with the gift of flowers on March 8? Well, imagine your co-worker’s or mentor’s face when you send her an unexpected “thank you” bouquet. PRICELESS.
It’s By U has some perfect flower subscriptions where fresh blooms arrive on a regular schedule. Enter WOMENSDAY19 at checkout at itsbyu.com and you’ll get 10% off your first subscription delivery. It’s a thoughtful way show respect and admiration for the women who touch your life every day of the year – not just on Women’s Day.
2. Support women-run businesses.
Women own 4 out of every 10 businesses in the US, and those businesses are mighty. They experience steady growth and more longevity, they create more jobs (about 9 million!), they scale smartly with fewer resources, their teams are highly collaborative, and they listen to their customers with fewer instances of ego getting in the way. This all leads to better products and customer experiences. In fact, women-owned businesses produce more revenue on average than their male counterparts. It’s clear that women entrepreneurs are a key part of the American economy.
Yet women-run businesses need much more support. Despite their successes, women only get an average of 2% of all venture capital investment in the US. Women have more to prove and further to go to get investment to be on equal-footing with male-run businesses.
When my sister, Caroline, and I started It’s By U three years ago at our parents’ kitchen table in Florida, we had only a vague idea of what it takes to run a DIY flower arranging startup. Since then we’ve become industry veterans, even though our business is still young. It’s been a labor of love with seemingly endless work hours, thousands of miles of travel, countless investment pitches, dozens of talks with customers, and months of intense collaboration with employees, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs. We’re growing a business that will tap into new areas of the floral industry, and we’re proud of our growth!
Here are some ways you can support It’s By U, and some of the 11 million other women-run businesses in the US:
- Check out this directory to find a women-owned business near you – and shop from them!
- Recommend women-founded businesses to other consumers.
- If you have a business of your own, network with women entrepreneurs and find ways to partner with them.
- Share business and financing leads and resources with women business owners.
3. Connect to women’s issues
Women have had to fight hard for everything from basic political recognition as people, to maternal work leave, to reproductive rights, to preventing domestic violence..and millions of other issues in between.
The road to equality is a long one, and there are many challenges along the way. Significant change can only happen if you get involved as often as you can.
Call your representatives.
Find the women’s topic that resonates most with you. Then, tell your congresspeople how you feel and what actions to take. Calling them carries more weight and is harder to ignore than an email or social media post. Not sure who your representatives are? Look them up by clicking here. Then mobilize your friends, neighbors and co-workers to do the same. Make your voices heard!
Donate to women’s organizations.
There are good charities across the world who do excellent work in fighting for women’s rights. But they can only continue their work with donations and volunteers. Find at least one women’s issue charity that resonates with you – and find out how you can help them further their cause. Need a list of trustworthy organizations focused on women’s issues? Check out the list here.
By recognizing the women who do so much good in our lives now, supporting women who are making an economic impact by running businesses, and getting involved in women’s issues politically and via charities, you’ll help brighten the future for women today and for generations to come. Happy International Women’s Day!