International Women’s Day on March 8 is a time for us to raise awareness of gender equality, celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women and take stock of what progress has been made over the last twelve months.
Every year, there is an outpouring of statistics and infographics shared on social media. And while it’s great that we’ve got the conversation started about gender inequality, sometimes an Instagram story or Twitter post feels like it does very little to actually help the cause.
‘One of my biggest frustrations about International Women’s Day is the outpouring of stats and celebration,’ UN Women UK’s Executive Director, Claire Barnett, told Grazia. ‘People do these photos where they hold both arms up and hashtag that it’s “time for change” and…it doesn’t achieve anything.’
‘Last year we got out on the street like never before and said we wanted to see a better world for women after lockdown’ continued Barnett. ‘We have seen people putting their hands up to create change…But there are also a lot of campaigns (some by governments and some by brands) that are poster campaigns. They’re putting on films and putting up posters saying “things have to change” but my worry is we need more people to get involved in action.’
So, how can you get involved in action for equality this International Women’s Day? We’ve rounded up Grazia’s top ten favourite projects and initiatives for you to donate your time, money and expertise to right now.
Safe Spaces Now
UN Women UK’s research has found that the majority of women experience sexual harassment in public spaces. But not enough is being done by the Government, decision-makers, funders and owners of public spaces to change this reality. To get involved with their Safe Spaces Now campaign, you can add your name to an open letter to demand safe spaces for women from the owners and administrators of public spaces in the UK here. Sign here.
As well as that, UN Women UK are also looking for people to be involved in the designing and testing of solutions, are encouraging you to write to your local transport providers and music venues to ask them to sign up to this project, and need people to volunteer as Guardian Angels for women at events like music festivals.
‘If you had people being run over by cars at the rate women are being assaulted, we would think it was a public health issue,’ Barnett told Grazia. ‘We need people in communities that know how to prevent it. We need to change behaviour and the only way to achieve this is to make people learn and practise different behaviours to make it happen. Legislation plays a part, but we need communities to work better.’
The Girls' Network
Set up by two teachers in North West London, The Girls Network has established a one-to-one mentoring scheme for more than 1,300 girls across the country to offer them professional role models, build their self-belief, and expose them to opportunities.
You can help simply by volunteering to be a mentor. After two years of disrupted educations, girls from the least advantaged communities need us more than ever. Mentoring matters. Mentoring works and this International Women’s Day you can enforce that no girl’s future is limited by gender, background or parental income.
There are many changes needed across society to ensure true gender equity, but a key part of the solution is raising up our next generation of female leaders, change makers, and phenomenal women,’ CEO of The Girls’ Network Charly Young told Grazia. ‘Mentoring matters, and mentoring works. This International Women's Day, we urge every woman to consider signing up to become a mentor to a girl in their community. Together, we can continue to break the bias and see greater gender equity.’ Sign up here.
UN Women’s Ukraine Appeal
It’s common knowledge that women and children suffer most at the hands of war and you can donate to UN Women’s Ukraine appeal to help conflict victims in their current war against Russia. UN Women is working closely with women’s civil society organisations and the UN Resident Coordination to monitor the situation and continue to deliver targeted interventions on the ground for Ukrainian women and girls. Donate here.
Period poverty is a huge issue in the UK, with an estimated 137,000 children missing school because of period poverty. Accesible and eco-friendly period product brand Hey Girls run a scheme where for every product you buy, they donate a product to someone in need. This is implemented by their local community partners, charities, schools and NHS workers. Visit the Hey Girls site here.
Women For Women International
Focused on helping women survivors of war and conflict rebuild their lives, Women For Women International uses donations to help women build skills, knowledge and resources so they can forge their own path and achieve long term security and self-reliance. The women they help are supported to start businesses, build support networks and to take on leadership roles in their local communities. Donate here.
Every year, Women For Women International partners with Monica Vinader. This year they’ve released a togetherness chain necklace and all the profits made from the piece between 7th and 9th March will be donated to female survivors of war. Buy here.
The Malala Fund
Created by female activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, The Malala Fund invests in education advocates and activists who are challenging policies and practices that stop 130million girls from going to school in their communities all over the world. Donate here.
The Malala Fund has also partnered with Edge of Ember on their Fearless Necklace where £25 from every sale will be donated to the fund. Buy here.
The Fawcett Society
For International Women’s Day 2022, The Fawcett Society has launched a Big Give fundraising campaign with the goal to raise £10,000 in one week. With that money, The Fawcett Society will fund their Equal Play campaign, which supports parents in tackling harmful gender stereotypes with their children. For every pound The Fawcett Society raises, The Big Give will match every pound up to £20,000.
"Gender stereotyping starts young and its impact can last a lifetime,’ the Fawcett Society’s campaign manager Emily Liddle told Grazia. ‘From boys will be boys” attitudes in nursery or school, to outmoded beliefs that there are ‘jobs for boys’ and ‘jobs for girls’. We need to end the ‘princessification’ of girls and the toxification of boys.
‘We have to make women and girls visible when, because of pre-existing bias, the default male will still be the prevailing assumption. The majority of parents recognise that there is a problem and increasingly they want something different. They want to see real change coming from Government and companies and need practical help to make changes themselves.’ Support children to become who they want to be here.
Campaigning for legal and systemic changes, Equality Now aims to address violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. The feminist organisation uses the law to protect and protect the human rights of all women and girls everywhere and, since 1992, their network of international lawyers, activists and supporters has held governments accountable for legal inequality, sexual exploitation and sexual violence. Donate here.
For International Women’s Day 2022, all of the T-shirt profits from Tatty Devine go straight to Equality now. You can choose between a monochrome ‘Equality Now’ design, a pink ‘Full Time Feminist’ slogan tee, a mustard ‘Era Yes’ design and a white ‘End Male Violence’ shirt. Shop here.
With Meghan Markle as a patron, Smart Works provides interview training and clothing to low-income women in the UK to help them get jobs and therefore financial independence. Using the power of clothes and coaching, the charity builds women's confidence in the hope that they can successfully start their careers. You can donate either clothes or money to any seven of the charities locations across the UK. More information here.
At the forefront of shaping ad coordinating responses to domestic abuse, Women’s Aid save lives ensuring women are believed, know abuse is not their fault and that their experiences have been understood. They campaign alongside their supporters to call on the government to tackle the causes and consequences of domestic violence and provide almost 300 local lifesaving services to women and children.
You can help by volunteering to become a Women’s Aid Champion and support their national campaigns on a local level, give survivors of domestic violence a voice and help to ensure that politicians and other key decision makers are listening. Sign up here.