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10 ways to really help women this International Women’s Day

It’s now used to flog everything from perfume to ice-cream, so how can you meaningfully help girls and women on International Women’s Day?

It’s now used to flog everything from perfume to ice-cream, so how can you meaningfully help girls and women on International Women’s Day?

With its roots in the universal suffrage movement, International Women’s Day became a mainstream global event when it was picked up and promoted by the UN in 1977.

Today, the day on 8 March is designed to give focus to issues including gender equality, reproductive rights and violence and abuse against women. But it also prompts reams of PR tie-ins, which are at best irrelevant and at worst thinly veiled attempts to sell stuff – anything but empowering.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 practical ways to really help girls and women this year. 


1. Volunteer as a Big Sister

Becoming a mentor through the pioneering, Manchester-based social enterprise Girls Out Loud brings all the joy of having a kid sister to champion, with none of the sibling rivalry. Girls can often get lost in the noise of those challenging teenage years, but the Big Sister mentoring programme lifts them up and helps them shine.  

Image: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

2. Gift a job interview glow-up

Is it possible to power dress your way to a brighter future? UK charity Smart Works reckons so. It gives disadvantaged women a free dressing consultation, coaching, and an outfit to deliver the confidence boost they need to nail that crucial job interview. Consider supporting the charity’s work by hosting a clothes swap or shop with one of its partner brands: expect new launches and promotions to coincide with IWD this week.

Image: Christina @

International Women’s Day
3. Back women in business

It can be as simple as spending your money wisely with a femalerun small biz, employing a female tradesperson, or promoting them with a five-star review. If you’re in business yourself, you might feature products from women-owned stockists, or become a mentor through an organisation like the Cherie Blair Foundation its applications are open until 12 April and you’ll be supporting a woman in business in a low or middle income nation.

Image: Former Cherie Blair Foundation for Women mentee Suubi Njuki, the owner of Suu-Bee Ltd., Uganda

International Women's Day
4. Challenge gender stereotypes

Praise and support kids who go against the grain, and instead champion freedom of expression. Subvert norms with non-gendered toys and inclusive activities. Encouraging girls to engage in, for example, outdoor games instead of playing with dolls helps develop social, physical and cognitive skills while leaving the stereotyped role of ‘caregiver’ in the dust. 

Image: cottonbro studio

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5. Take a stand against misogyny and gender-based violence

Men have a responsibility to call out and challenge unacceptable banter, language and behaviour. Doing so helps dismantle the toxic culture that allows gender-based violence to flourish. Follow the lead of former police officer Graham Goulden, who is training men to stop being bystanders by becoming voices for positive change instead, or Ben Hurst (pictured), who is helping to rewrite the ‘masculinity script’ in schools, universities and workplaces.

Image: Sam Bush for Positive News

6. Help to close the gender pay gap

Although the gender pay gap is shrinking compared to pre-pandemic levels, it’s shocking that in this day and age it exists at all. Employers can look to the Fawcett Society for ideas on challenging the status quo, which include flexible working for all employees to help manage work and home life. For employees, it’s simple: advocate for your female colleagues and allow them the space to be heard.

Image: Fabian Blank/Unsplash

7. Take shared parental leave

On a similar theme, consider making use of your legal right to shared parental leave when balancing work and childcare. It allows birth mothers to share maternity leave and pay with their partner. As it stands, the scheme is chronically underutilised. Employers have an obligation to facilitate it, so start that conversation if you think it might work for you.

Image: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

International Women’s Day
8. Shop for change

The Prince’s Trust raises funds to raise up women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds through employment, education or help with starting a business. Backing its #ChangeAGirlsLife campaign is as easy as shopping with one of the many partner brands donating shares of their sales to its cause. 

Image: The Prince’s Trust

9. Support a women-centric charity

Back causes that promote equality and empowerment. For starters you could try The Global Fund for Women, which has been supporting feminist movements worldwide for over three decades, Girls Who Code, which aims to close the gender gap in tech, or Equality Now, which confronts the myriad laws still in existence that discriminate on the basis of sex or gender.

Image: Maksym Ostrozhynskyy/Unsplash

10. Watch women’s sport

After decades in the shadows, women’s sport finally got the limelight it deserves last summer as record numbers tuned into the Women’s World Cup. The tournament demonstrated unequivocally that women’s sport makes for equally compelling viewing. More importantly, big money in the upper echelons helps catalyse grassroots change benefiting the young female sports stars of tomorrow.

Image: Nima Sarram/Unsplash
Main image: Former Cherie Blair Foundation for Women mentee Esther Gathage, owner of Herstee’s Bespoke Cakes, Kenya

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