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  • Nerida K

Exploring International Women's Day: Fun Ways to Celebrate with Kids

With International Women's Day fast approaching, we wanted to explore what it is all about and share some great ways to celebrate it with kids or for yourself!

What is International Women's Day?

International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th every year. It’s a day that’s celebrated around the world to honour the achievements of women, and it’s a call for action encouraging everyone to stand up for women’s rights and gender equality.

When did International Women's Day start?

Throughout history, women have had to fight for the freedom and rights we enjoy today, including things like equal pay, access to medical care, legal support and education, and the ability to own property.

International Women’s Day (IWD) grew out of efforts in the early 20th century (1900s) to promote women’s rights, especially labour rights and the right of women to vote in elections. The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28 in 1909, honouring a strike on the same day in 1908 where 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In 1911, IWD was honoured for the first time in several European countries and in the United States. This celebration was on 19 March, and more than one million women and men attended rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, for training and to end discrimination at work. IWD also became a means for protesting World War I. While campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 23, 1913. In Europe, similar women’s rallies followed to protest the war and express women’s solidarity.


The fact that IWD is celebrated on March 8th is linked to the women’s movements during the Russian Revolution. In 1917, Women in Russia again chose to protest and strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ on February 23rd. The strike continued for four days until the Czar abdicated, and the provisional Government grated women the right to vote. At the time, Russia used the Julian calendar, while other countries had started adopting the Gregorian calendar that is used today by most. In 1917, 23 February in Russia was actually 8 March in other European countries.

International Women's Day Theme 2024

In 1975, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time by the United Nations and in 1996 the UN started announcing annual themes for the day. This year’s theme is Invest in Women: Accelerate progress, and it’s a call to action and a reminder that gender equality is one of the most effective ways to build healthier, more prosperous, and more inclusive communities.

For more information on the history of International Women's Day:

You can read more about the history of IWD on the United Nations website and find out more about the UN’s role and history in the fight for women’s rights.

The International Women’s Day website also has a great timeline that we've referred to here, and you can use to discover more about the history behind the day, as well as how it’s evolved in more recent times.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today, IWD is widely celebrated and there are many ways to remember the day, from celebrating women authors and women throughout history to supporting women-owned businesses or simply the honouring the important women in your life. Here are some of our favourite ideas for celebrating the day.

Explore facts about women’s rights and Canadian women’s history


Women in Manitoba became the first in Canada to win the right to vote in 1916.

Cecile Eustace Smith, a 15-year-old figure skater, became the first Canadian woman to represent Canada in the Olympic Games in 1924.

Elsie Knott, an Ojibwa woman and member of the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario, became the first woman elected chief of a First Nation community in Canada in 1954.

You can find these facts and more on the Canadian Government's 'Women in Canadian History' timeline.

International Women’s Day Activity Cards for kids (or everyone)

The IWD website has a great set of activity cards to engage children or anyone in activities and conversations for the day, including:

·       Create a cartoon strip featuring a girl or a woman as the hero

·       Make a list of women leaders across the world you’ve heard of

·       Draw a woman or girl you respect and add some words to describe her

·       Interview a girl or woman who inspires you

·       Make a gift for a girl or woman who is special to you

Read a book or watch a movie with a strong female lead

Reading books or watching movies featuring strong women and girls is a perfect activity for the IWD. Here’s just one suggestion:

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

By Andrea Beaty and Illustrated by David Roberts

Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school… until one day when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill, and he can no longer do so. Sofia (aka Sofi) misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore.

Then she gets an idea: the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall—only to be told by a clerk that she can’t build a park because she’s just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do.

Young readers who join Sofia in her story will learn that they can make a difference, help their community, or one day become a future leader.

You could also make it an outing and borrow the book from Calgary library.

Share a celebratory meal together

Create a special dinner to mark the occasion. If you have a favourite family recipe, you could make that, especially one shared or loved by an inspiring woman in your life.

Another option is International Women’s Day themed food including making dishes that are named after famous women e.g. Make dishes that are named after famous women e.g., Peach Melba (Dame Nellie Melba), Margherita Pizza (Queen Margherita), Pavlova (Anna Pavlova — ballerina). Or make your own and name it after someone inspirational!

This last idea came from FoundbyFlynn who also lists some other great options for celebrating IWD.

Crafted gifts to celebrate important women in our lives

If cooking isn’t your strength, maybe a craft is a good option! Make a card or a homemade gift for an important woman in your life.

Another great idea we saw was a flower craft where each of the petals representing something that makes that person special. You could cut-and-paste petals to create a flower similar to the example we found on, or use pens and paper to draw one.

Happy International Women's Day!


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