INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COLOR DAY
Each year throughout the month of March, companies(people?) worldwide recognize Women’s History Month, with International Women’s Day on March 8th as the pinnacle of the month-long set of activities focused on gender equity and equality. This is a critical time of year that serves as a keystone moment to remind everyone – from the board room to the classroom – about the world-changing, overwhelming contributions of women, and why the push toward full equality for those who identify as women is described as a fight.
As we continue to amass our collective energy to acknowledge the immeasurable contributions and achievements of women in history, as well as the present, let’s remember to kick Women’s History Month off the right way by celebrating International Women Of Color Day on March 1st.
Now, if this is the first you’re learning of this important observance, you are not alone. A quick poll of my colleagues from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds revealed that International Women Of Color Day is not well-known. So, I decided to do a bit of informal research to find out why our awareness is so limited in this regard.
I found that International Women’s Day has been recognized globally for over a century—and in fact, March was chosen to become Women’s History Month because International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th. Moreover, Women’s History Month was established by presidential proclamation in the 80s. This level of leadership, power, and influence from governing bodies—up to and including the United Nations—provided a significant level of visibility to mission-driven change.
During that same decade and following a series of initiatives aimed at advancing the issues of women from multicultural communities, the National Institute for Women of Color proclaimed March 1st as National Women of Color Day. Thereafter, in the 90s, social justice advocate Suzanne Brooks began the work of converting a national observance into an international one. Since then, celebrations have expanded to recognize the contributions of women of Aboriginal, African, African Diasporic, Alaska Native, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American, South Sea and Pacific Islander, Maori, and Indigenous heritages throughout the world. But without the same high-profile support as Women’s History Month or the benefits of International Women’s Day’s decades-long history, International Women of Color Day has not achieved a similar level of recognition—yet.
Most of us have come to understand intersectionality, so as we celebrate International Women Of Color Day on March 1st, let us be mindful of the complex and multifaceted challenges imposed on people who must endure both gender-based and racial bias or discrimination. The good news is, the awareness we now have about International Women Of Color Day provides a terrific opportunity to bring more attention to this day and its purpose: to honor outstanding women of color who may not receive the level of public recognition equal to their contribution to the industry in which they serve or the community in which they live.
I’m excited to now have this gift of awareness. In the spirit of International Women of Color Day, I’d like to list the names of just a few of the dynamic and amazing women I’m celebrating: Sabrina Carter, Malaak Shabazz, Amanda Singh, Marti Wright-Manning, Tiffany R. Warren, Judith Harrison, Ingrid Otero-Smart, Vita Harris, Cynthia Augustine, Maya Guthrie, Michele Thornton-Ghee, Veronica Bertran, Christena J. Pyle, Robin Roberts, Judy Jackson, Adrianne C. Smith, Brandi Boatner, Darla Price, Michelle Tang, Rose Kirk, Isabelle Avridor, Bozoma St. John, Amber Guild, Chioma Aduba, Emily Chang, Ingrid Tineo, Deidre Smalls-Landau, Monique Nelson, Serena May, Carla A. Harris, Crystal Fong, Devika Bulchandani, Tricia Ashby, Laura Quinones, Jayna Kothary. . .There are many more amazing women I could name, but I’ll stop there for this year’s observance. That’s my list, and as we get ready for March 1st, share your list of amazing women of color that you’d like to celebrate!