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When you think about celebrating Women’s History Month, you may think of structured programs created by schools or organizations featuring women like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. But those certainly aren’t the only groundbreaking women who have made a major impact in our lives.
Inspirational women don’t only exist in history books — they’re all around us.
By learning more about the past and uplifting the women around us, we can truly make a difference. Here are 10 big and small ways you can celebrate the spirit of Women’s History Month:
Shop at women-owned businesses
You can give women economic support by putting your money where your heart is. Not sure how to find women-owned businesses? Designer Rebecca Minkoff recently spearheaded the Female Founder Collective, which helps make those companies more visible by designing a symbol to help consumers easily identify them.
She recently described the collective to Know Your Value as “a platform for female business leaders to connect and support each other, socially, legally and economically.”
Be a mentor
Whether or not you join a structured program, make yourself available for questions to newer members of your team or take a neighbor or family member under your wing. After all, becoming a mentor can be as beneficial to you as it is to your mentee. Sharing knowledge can feel empowering, and as you coach someone, you will likely collect knowledge, as well.
Have a conversation with your boss about how to get more women's voices heard
If your workplace doesn’t have many female leaders in management positions, it may be worthwhile to investigate how to make sure women’s voices are heard and represented in company decisions. If your boss doesn’t seem open to discussion, consider ways to make an impact on your own. This can be as simple as asking another woman in a meeting if she has additional thoughts on the matter at hand. You can also try the “amplification” technique female staffers used when President Obama was in office. When a woman made an important point, another woman in the room would repeat the point and credit the woman who said it initially.
Read books to inspire and inform our children about women who changed the world
Whether you have sons or daughters, it’s important to provide them with information about women who have made a difference. Don’t know where to start? Ciarra Chavarria, Know Your Value contributor and curator of the Instagram feed @girlsreadtheworld, curated a list of books featuring heroines, visionary leaders, and damsels who are certainly not in distress.
Read books to inspire and inform YOU!
For this Women’s History Month, why not dive into a book to learn more about the women who made history — and the women who wrote about it? To help get you started, Know Your Value has compiled a list of 10 books about women, written by women. These books can help you experience the past, understand the present and inspire you to create a brighter future.
Give compliments freely and often
If you admire a woman on the bus who somehow manages to wrangle three kids without losing her cool…
If your supermarket cashier is so pleasant that she makes an otherwise annoying errand a breeze…
If you’re constantly amazed by the way your accountant can break down complicated tax prep into manageable steps…
… tell her so!
Too often we think these things but don’t express them. If we took a little bit of our time to pay someone a compliment, we could potentially change the entire course of their day. It’s one of the easiest ways we can encourage and lift up other women.
Stop gossiping about other women
We’ve all likely done it: we’ve commented on another woman’s dress, lifestyle choice or parenting style. Or maybe we’ve stood by in tacit agreement. Remember that words have the power to tear people down, and it’s up to us to change the conversation. For example, the next time you hear someone say something like, “Yikes! Did you see that outfit Emily wore to the presentation?” respond with, “All I could think about was that last point she made. She did such a great job!”
Listen to these inspiring podcasts
If it’s hard to find the time to open a book, listen to a podcast! “The History Chicks” podcast zips through the past to give you the inside scoop on noteworthy women from history. “Stuff Mom Never Told You” combines research about the challenges women have faced with strategic solutions to further women’s lives. NPR’s “The Well Woman Show” contains interviews with women leaders, executives and entrepreneurs who are attempting to do something innovative in order to make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks in part to a surge in female listenership, there are hours of binge-worthy podcast content to enjoy.
Donate gently used work clothes to women who are trying to get their foot in the door
If you’re Marie Kondo-ing your closet (or even if you’re not), why not pass along the work clothes you no longer wear to someone who really needs them? We all hang on to clothes that do nothing more than take up space in our closet — pre-baby clothes, clothes you hope to fit into one day, clothes that you’ve replaced with new versions but haven’t purged the old ones. Many local and national organizations will distribute those clothes to women who really need them. If you find it difficult to let go of your things, just think about how your clothes may be able to help someone else provide for her family.
The Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits accepts interview clothes, suits and professional clothes.
Soles4Souls has partnered with Zappos to collect all kinds of new or gently loved shoes and clothing. Just box up your shoes and print out a prepaid shipping label to send your donation to those in need around the globe.
Lend a hand … literally
When you see a mom struggling to haul her stroller down the stairs, or an older woman who can’t quite reach something in the supermarket, or a female college student whose backpack broke and scattered her books everywhere…stop what you’re doing and help. Strong women lift each other up.