International Women’s Day — a time to celebrate the appreciation and achievements of women – is observed on March 8. It is also a time to recognize the struggles of women in the past and present, and spread awareness in order to work toward solutions. international-womens-day

“International Women’s Day began when women were first starting the suffrage movement in multiple countries, as a way for women to work for more rights,” says Kisa Clark, a communications lecturer at Missouri Southern who also teaches a gender studies course. “Since then it’s been a way to celebrate and recognize how far women have come, and also to recognize the work that still needs to be done to improve the lives of women all over the world.”

International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, and in 1977 the United Nations proclaimed it a day for women’s rights and world peace. Each year there is a different theme — this year’s is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” The hashtag #PledgeForParity is also in place.

“Today is significant because the work of women — past and present — is improving our lives in various ways. It’s important to have this day to recognize that women have played a significant role for everyone and impacted all of our lives,” says Clark.

Beyond the hashtag and recognition of women, both women and men can celebrate International Women’s Day by donating to organizations that promote the improvement of gender equality and researching the creative materials of women, like art or literature. For more information, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.