Happy International Women’s Day! Today countries around the world celebrate the contributions of women to the strength of history and their nations. American women have played a unique role throughout the history of the country by providing the majority of the volunteer labor force. They were particularly important in the establishment of early charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions.
Juliette Gordon Low Low started the first Girl Scout troop in 1912. Low brought girls of all backgrounds into the out-of-doors, giving them the opportunity to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness. She encouraged girls to prepare not only for traditional homemaking, but also for possible future roles as professional women—in the arts, sciences and business—and for active citizenship outside the home. Girl Scouting welcomed girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many other activities.
Lillian Wald Often called the “mother of public health nursing”, Wald the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in 1893 on New York’s Lower East Side, when it was the world’s most densely populated slum. Wald blazed a trail for a multicultural workforce, and pioneered American social work to establish the Henry Street Settlement House, which was nonsectarian and would charge fees only to those who could pay.
Despite the contributions of these women, and countless others, women still face hardships in our country and across the world. This International Women’s Day, take some time to do good for women.
Volunteer at a women’s shelter Women’s shelters are often under-served and underfunded, while domestic abuse is the leading cause of injury among women 15 to 44 years old in the United States. One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States, and 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Consider spending some of your volunteer time at a women’s shelter.
Invest in women with microfinancing Consider making your next donation a loan, through a microfinancing organization, like Kiva or WAM (Women Advancing Microfinancing). Women are a significant untapped resource for creating opportunity that can change lives. And yet millions across the world struggle to access the resources they need and deserve to jumpstart change.
Organize a feminine hygiene product drive Domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters often face a shortage of feminine hygiene products. The lack of these products prevents women from attending work and school. Find out which organization in your community could most benefit from your donation and start a collection. To take this project world wide, check out Pads4Girls, which provides reusable pads for girls in developing nations so they can continue to attend school.
Find an International Women’s Day event near you! What will you be doing to celebrate women today? Let us know in the comments below!