I wrote this post as a feature writer for One Planet Ratings blog. One Planet Rating is world's only dedicated review platform for sustainable travel & tourism where travelers can rate Hotels, restaurants, cities, sights and activities based on sustainability, specifically environmental, social and cultural issues. Check the out here.
Today marks the 109th celebration of International Women’s Day, the first of which was observed in the United States when the Socialist Party of America designated this day to honor the garment workers' strike in New York City, where women began protesting against unfair working conditions. Since the early years after its inauguration, International Women’s Day has transformed, encompassing new dimensions from the growing global movement in the fight for gender equality.
The idea of just one day to recognize women for their achievements, suffering, and contributions to humankind since the dawn of time is less fitting in 2018 than it was in 1909. Instead feminists around the world are calling on this day to raise awareness about how we all need to make more changes in our everyday lives to achieve equal pay, fair representation across global industries and politics, access to education, safe living conditions, reproductive rights, and affordable healthcare for women in every country in the world. International Women’s Day 2018 is all about asking a very important question: Why don’t we recognize the achievements of women every day of the year?
Since women should be celebrated every day of the year, here are some awesome things you can do to support women around the world, to help lift women out of difficult situations caused by gender bias, and to give them the credit they deserve.
1. Discover the National Museum of Women in the Arts, located in Washington, D.C.
Featuring more than 3,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to female artists. Incorporated in November 1981 as a private, non-profit museum, this incredible collection is located near the White House in Washington D.C., USA. Featuring a wide range of styles and artists from the 16th century to present, this museum displays visual, performing, and literary arts. It’s no secret that women are not well-represented (and many times not represented at all) in many of the world's major fine art museums - a fact made well known by the infamous Guerrilla Girls movement of the 1980s. The Guerrilla Girls were feminist activist artists that wore gorilla masks in public and used facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose gender and ethnic bias as well as corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture.
2. Eat at Crepes & Waffles in Latin America
Crepes & Waffles has one of the coolest business models I’ve ever seen. Out of the 3,800+ employees working at Crepes & Waffles, 96% of them are women, many of whom are single mothers and the only breadwinner for their families. Famously popular and delicious, this restaurant chain was started by Beatriz Fernandez in Bogota, Colombia in 1980. The restaurant chain is rapidly expanding across Latin America and is now in Panama, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela. So if you find yourself in any of these countries, YOU MUST EAT HERE. I can tell you from personal experience that the food here is delicious, healthy, and relatively inexpensive for the high quality of its ingredients.
So why are all the employees women? This was not Beatriz Fernandez’s initial intention when she started Crepes & Waffles, but several years into running her business, she realized it was a unique way to lift women out of poverty and support children through supporting women. This is especially true in countries with a dominant machismo culture. When interviewed by Reuters Foundation about her business model, Fernandaz declared “Women are the motor of change, the backbone of a family. Colombia is a land of women. They're the ones who look after the children, take them to school, and provide for them ... women bring more commitment to the job because they have a greater sense of responsibility for their families, with sometimes up to five children".
Yup, Fernandez and her business model are pretty awesome.
3. Volunteer with Days for Girls
Their motto: “pads are a small thing that make a big difference’’. Every day matters when it comes to a child's education. A shockingly high number of girls miss school around the world each year because of inadequate access to menstruation products that make periods manageable. One in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school due to menstruation every year, and in India 113 million girls miss school for the same reason.
Days for Girls (DfG) is an international non-profit providing girls with the long-lasting supplies and education they need for healthy menstruation. Their model is working: After the first year of distributing kits to girls in Uganda, the student drop out rate for girls fell from 38% to 8%!
So how can you help? Donations are always helpful, but if you are short of cash or want a more personal way to advocate for women's health and education, Days for Girls offers several volunteer opportunities which you can do from home or abroad. You can help distribute DfG kits around the world, participate in sewing the kits, launch a DfG Club at your Middle School, High School, or University, or sign up for a volunteer expedition to Uganda, Ghana, or Nepal. Girls missing school due to menstruation and not having safe sanitary products is a huge issue we can all raise awareness about.
4. Drink some 100% organic fair trade coffee from Nicaragua
Replace your regular morning cup of joe with a freshly brewed cup of Sisterhood Solidarity Coffee premium roast coffee grown by Las Diosas. Las Diosas (The Goddesses) is a cooperative committed to more than just to growing coffee; this community project in northern Nicaragua is run by women striving to empower other women to be owners of the land that they cultivate coffee on through organic production and direct, fair trade practices. You can buy a bag of Las Diosas here for just $11 USD.
5. Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at Niki Nakayama’s Restaurant
Chef Niki Nakayama is challenging the the patriarchy in one of the best ways possible: through her incredible talent as an internationally ranked chef. Not only is she one of the few top female chefs recognized by the major fine dining establishments for her restaurant, N/Naka, being named one of the top restaurants in LA and the world, but she claims to be one of the world’s only female Kaiseki chefs. Kaiseki is a traditional method of cooking in Japan that uses the formal, multicourse, seasonal style of Japanese dining.
The restaurant industry is notoriously known to be a male-dominated field and one reluctant to shift towards equal recognition of chefs. The number of female chefs who own their own restaurants and gain international attention for their work is alarmingly low. In 2017, there were zero independent female chefs listed in the top 50 restaurants in the world. While numbers vary around the world, several sources claim that only 10% to 15% of executive chefs of independent restaurants are women. So, if you are truly passionate about fine dining without having gender bias interfere with your love of innovative culinary creations, check out N/Naka in Los Angeles, California. If you want to discover more female chefs, here is a list of women who should be on the top 50 best restaurants in the world according to international food experts.
6. Take a Tour of Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul
Learn about one of the most influential female artists of the modern era and how she became recognized as arguably Mexico's most renowned artist. Casa Azul is by far one of my favorite museums. Frida Kahlo was born and died in this house, and it is now a museum dedicated to her art and legacy on the art industry. She began painting her famous self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident that almost killed her at the age of 18. Casa Azul, ‘The Blue House’, is located in Mexico City, in the suburb of Coyoacán. This lovely areas was once a thriving home to intellectuals, full of important innovative figures during the 1920s and onward.