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International Women’s Day: #InspireInclusion

The month of March is dedicated to recognizing the achievements of women in various fields, raising awareness about gender equality, and advocating for women’s rights globally. This observation has come to be known as International Women’s Day (IWD) and is celebrated on March 8th every year.



IWD originates from movements for women’s rights and suffrage emerging in the early 20th century. According to the United Nations (UN), the global observance originated from the inaugural National Woman's Day acknowledged in the United States in 1908. During that year, the Socialist Party of America officially marked February 28th as National Woman's Day, commemorating the courageous women who conducted strikes to protest against hazardous working conditions and unjust labour practices within New York City's garment sector. However, in later years as the movement progressed forward, the transition to celebrating IWD on March 8th became strongly associated with the women’s movements during the Russian Revolution of 1917.


Since its inception, IWD has transformed into a worldwide celebration of women's accomplishments across social, economic, cultural, and political spheres with new themes of women’s equality every year. Yet, it remains steadfast in its mission to advocate for a gender-equal society, challenging biases, stereotypes, and discrimination against women. The ongoing goal is to create a world where gender equality prevails, ensuring that all individuals have the same rights and opportunities regardless of gender.


This year the theme of IWD is to inspire inclusion, a fundamental principle The Grove strives toward. As we recognize International Women’s Day this month, we had the privilege to speak with some inspiring female leaders at The Grove, including Nida Ansari, Ava Smith, Fran MacDonald, Lindsay Malec, Jessica Martin, and Tiffany Fagan, to gain their insights on this significant occasion. Here’s what they had to say!


What does International Women's Day mean to you?


Diving into this topic with the Youth Ambassadors revealed that International Women’s Day holds a similar significance to each of them. Nida, a Youth Ambassador Mentor, expressed that International Women’s Day is a great way to recognize and respect all the amazing women of the world and their contributions to our ever-changing society. It’s also more than just recognizing accomplishments – it’s about recognizing women as a whole.


Our Youth Ambassador at the UoG site, Ava, shared that IWD is a time to acknowledge and honour women and their achievements across various domains including social, economic, political, and cultural spheres. Embracing and celebrating these moments provides an opportunity to underscore the significance of women’s rights and advocate for gender equality on a global scale.


Fran, Lindsay, Jessica, and Tiffany highlighted the opportunity to celebrate women in our community. An important aspect of inspiring inclusion in accordance with this year's theme. They stressed the importance of empowering young women in our communities as they set the stage for the future.


What does the theme #InspireInclusion mean to you and how can you interpret it in your personal life?


This year’s IWD 2024 theme is to inspire inclusion because when we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world. “Inspire Inclusion means to empower and uplift women of all diverse backgrounds and ways of life,” Nida described. She shared the importance of considering intersectionality and equity in ensuring women are seen, heard, and advocated for. 


When women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment that propels them to contribute to society and the community, Fran, Lindsay, Jessica, and Tiffany emphasized. As individuals, women have an abundance to offer to the community through work, friendships, activism and more. Nida spoke impactfully about the power we have to influence and encourage change by not standardizing or reducing women’s diverse experiences to just one perspective. Ava acknowledged the significance of #InspireInclusion and working together to promote equality in every aspect of life amongst individuals regardless of gender identities. 


How is The Grove recognizing and celebrating International Women's Day this March?


The Grove works diligently to ensure inclusion not only within the organization but in surrounding communities as well. Nida joyfully shared that The Grove is preparing to share the IWD love through a multitude of decorations on each site.


Fran, Lindsay, Jessica, and Tiffany, specified that each site will recognize the movement in its own unique ways – promoting equity and inclusion. Communications highlighting the significance of the day and information on continued support will be shared among staff members as well to encourage participation across sites.


Ava beamed about the exciting things happening at the UofG site for IWD. This month to celebrate, Ava shared that they are organizing the youth and staff members to join together in creating artwork that represents women’s independence and strength. These collaborative unique works will be showcased on various doors throughout the site.


Are there areas where you see a need for more inclusivity and equality for women?


While there is yearly promotion and advocating for a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, the Grove Team expressed that there is still work to be done. Education on the topics and accountability are critical priorities when discussing areas to improve, Fran, Lindsay, Jessica, and Tiffany shared in agreement.


Ava noted the strong need for equality in athletic spaces and industry. As a very categorized space, it would be encouraging to witness accessibility changes and promotion of inclusive spaces for women to explore fitness needs while also being seen as true competitors when competing with men in fitness spaces.


“There is always room for progress,” Nida stated as she discussed the importance of not only having women included and prioritized as decision-makers on topics involving them but also the value of having a diverse representation at the table. Lived experiences provide valuable insights that are important to note when discussing topics involving women. “I think we also need to ensure that not only are women at the table in these decision-making conversations, but they are diverse in their perspectives and backgrounds.”


How can individuals actively support and encourage women in their daily lives?


IWD belongs to everyone, everywhere. Inclusion means all IWD actions are valid. But IWD doesn’t just start and stop on March 8th. IWD means actively supporting and encouraging women in your daily lives. Nida shared that this can look like many things from giving your female coworker praise and recognition on a great idea, or showing up for your female friends and family looking for support. It can also include listening to the needs of women and continuously advocating for them in any way possible. Whatever this looks like to you, it should always represent a step forward toward allyship because any step forward is valuable. 


Fran, Lindsay, Jessica, and Tiffany spoke in agreement when sharing that one way to actively support and encourage women in their daily lives is through continued celebration of successes. They emphasized that no matter how big or small an achievement may seem, it is critical to celebrate it, strengthening the mission to inspire inclusion. Ongoing advocacy to amplify young female voices is another way the Leadership Team shared to actively support and encourage women in their daily lives.


Simply put, Ava proposed the best way to actively support and encourage women in their daily lives is by being an ally – by being vocal about issues and promoting inclusivity for women across all walks of life.


The Grove avidly works to create safe and inclusive spaces for everyone at our various sites and in our community. For more information on International Women’s Day, head to the website here: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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