Every year on 8 March the world celebrates International Women’s Day. The focus for the celebrations changes every year – from respect, love and appreciation of women to honoring women’s political, social and economic achievements.
The event also has an overall theme for the year, which for 2014 is Inspiring Change – very apt for every female entrepreneur.
I know, I know. It’s very tempting to roll your eyes and think that International Women’s Day is just another feminist event or meaningless celebration. The world has come a long way since the early part of the 20th Century.
After all, don’t we enjoy equality and many freedoms today that our sisters fought for decades ago like the right to vote, have an education, own property and run a business? Do we even need an event like International Women’s Day any more?
I think we do.
For me, International Women’s Day is a chance to appreciate the freedom and opportunities I enjoy. It acts as a reminder that my life could have been very different had my parents not emigrated to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s.
I’m acutely aware of the fact that I could have been like Malala Yousefzai and thousands of other young Pakistani girls, and their peers across the developing world who crave an education, yearn to travel and want to be free to make their own choices.
It keeps me humble and drives me to do what I do.
You probably know that women in many countries around the world don’t get the same chances as men. In some places they have very few basic rights and no opportunities at all. But it might surprise you to discover that even the woman living next door or down the street from you may be enduring unimaginable hardship and deprivation.
We Need International Women’s Day
Take a look at these shocking statistics taken from the Independent newspaper; they represent the reality that many women have to live with day in day out.
- About 44 per cent of all UK women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence since they were 15.
- Over 130 million women living in the world today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.
- Approximately 14 million girls, some as young as 8 years old, will be married in 2014.
- An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked into slavery each year; 80% are girls.
- In 10 countries around the world women are legally bound to obey their husbands.
- Equal pay is a global problem for women worldwide. In the USA for every $1 a male earns, a female earns 77 cents. For African American women that number drops to 68 cents and for Latinas it drops to 58 cents.
The article in The Independent makes a very strong case for continuing to celebrate events like International Women’s Day. They help raise awareness and bring more equality and freedom for women, both home and abroad.
Real change can only happen when women are empowered. And when women are empowered, everyone benefits. In the words of Charles Malik “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”
Even though countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and much of Europe may be more progressive than many other parts of the world, I’m convinced that each one of us can do our bit. Right now, you can positively impact your sphere of influence in large and small ways.
By becoming the best version of you; by following your heart and living passionately; by being a positive role model and helping people; by raising your children to respect others; by enriching yourself and becoming a force for change with your online business.
55 Great Quotes For International Women’s Day
In honor of International Women’s Day, I have put together 55 of my favorite quotes by strong, successful women to inspire female entrepreneurs everywhere to live their truth and be the very best they can be.
Take a look and let me know what you think.
#1. One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go. — Sheila Murray Bethel
#2. It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent. — Madeleine Albright
#3. I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. — Oprah Winfrey
#4. Women hold up half the sky. — Chinese proverb
#5. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.— Eleanor Roosevelt
#6. You are more powerful than you know; you are beautiful just as you are. — Melissa Etheridge
#7. Whatever you do, be different – that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out. — Anita Roddick
#8. A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want. — Madonna
#9. I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. — Marissa Mayer
#10. You can do one of two things; just shut up, which is something I don’t find easy, or learn an awful lot very fast, which is what I tried to do. — Jane Fonda
#11. If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. — Margaret Fuller
#12. Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. —Janis Joplin
#13. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead
#14. Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade. — Constance Baker Motley
#15. I think the key is for women not to set any limits. — Martina Navratilova
#16. The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. —Gloria Steinem
#17. I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.—Martha Washington
#18. When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. – Audre Lorde
#19. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
#20. People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side unsecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just have to go for it. – Michelle Zatly
#21. Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
#22. The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.– Coco Chanel
#23. I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay. – Madonna
#24. A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. – Melinda Gates
#25. So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard. – Caterina Fake
#26. Making the decision to not follow a system, or someone else’s rules has allowed me to really dig into what my own strengths and gifts are without spending time feeling jaded or wasteful. – Ishita Gupta
#27. We must have a theme, a goal, a purpose in our lives. If you don’t know where you are aiming, you don’t have a goal. My goal is to live my life in such a way that when I die, someone can say, “she cared.” – Mary Kay Ash
#28. Expect the unexpected, and whenever possible, be the unexpected. – Lynda Berry
#29. The glass ceiling that once limited a woman’s career path has paved a new road towards business ownership, where women can utilize their sharp business acumen while building strong family ties. – Erica Nicole
#30. Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the trouble-making individual. – Natalie Clifford Barney
#31. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou
#32. There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard. – Madam C.J. Walker
#33. Nothing will work unless you do. – Maya Angelou
#34. Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. – Anais Nin
#35. The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. – Roseanne Barr
#36. There is no scientific answer for success. You can’t define it. You’ve simply got to live it and do it. – Anita Roddick
#37. I became successful due to several reasons. I never gave up and I never let anyone or anything get in my way. I use the power of positive thinking to tackle obstacles and challenges so they don’t defeat me. – Lillian Vernon
#38. I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But, I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them. – Madam C.J. Walker
#39. Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve. – Mary Kay Ash
#40. I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. – Marissa Mayer
#41. Don’t let others define you. Define yourself. – Ginni Rometty
#42. A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want. – Madonna
#43. Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great. – Cher
#44. Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth. – Julie Andrews
#45. Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. – Audre Lorde
#46. The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. – Elizabeth Cady Stanton
#47. Failure is impossible. – Susan B. Anthony
#48. You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. – Indira Gandhi
#49. Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes; work never begun. – Christina Rossetti
#50. Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe
#51. There are two ways of meeting difficulties. You alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them. – Phyllis Bottome
#52. My best successes came on the heels of failures. – Barbara Corcoran
#53. Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away. – Barbara De Angelis
#54. If you are committed to creating value and if you aren’t afraid of hard times; obstacles become utterly unimportant. A nuisance perhaps; but with no real power. The world respects creation; people will get out of your way. – Candice Carpenter
#55. Never be ashamed! There’s some who will hold it against you, but they are not worth bothering with. – J. K. Rowling
How do you celebrate International Women’s Day? Is it still important? Do any of the quotes have particular significance for you? Please share and comment below.