Next Wednesday, March 8, is going to be a big day: It is both International Women’s Day and “A Day Without A Woman,” a general strike organized by the folks behind the Women’s March. There are many ways to honor women on March 8, but volunteering on International Women’s Day is a great way to make the day count. By donating your time and effort, you can make a real difference in the lives of women and girls.
The organizers of “A Day Without A Woman” are encouraging women across America to show their solidarity and flex their economic muscle on March 8 in a few different ways:
1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
If you are able to take the day off of work (which, let’s be clear, is a privilege that not all women have), there are a variety of ways you can use that time to advocate for women, including attending protests or rallies in your area. However, one option to consider is using your day off to volunteer for a charity or nonprofit that helps women and girls. There are many different types of organizations from which to choose, from women’s shelters and food banks, to women’s health clinics, to mentoring organizations, to groups that advocate for women through legislation and the courts.
In addition to the whole “helping people for the sake of it” thing, research suggests that volunteering is actually good for your health, with the potential to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase longevity. By volunteering on International Women’s Day, you can thus do something good for others and for yourself. And if you aren't able take the day off on March 8, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still donate your time later in the evening or on weekends. March 8 may be International Women’s Day, but women can benefit from your volunteered time, effort, and skills any day of the year.
There are a few different ways to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Start by checking out VolunteerMatch, a database that lets you search for volunteering opportunities according to location, date, and area of interest. If nothing nearby seems quite right for you, look into virtual volunteering — that is, volunteering that happens via the web. VolunteerMatch lets you select “Virtual Volunteering” as a search option, and you can also check out the UN Volunteer website and Idealist for online volunteering options.
If there are specific organizations for which you are interested in volunteering — say, your local women’s health clinic or food bank — you can also reach out and ask if they need any volunteers for March 8 (and if they don’t, go ahead and find out if they need volunteers at other times of the year!). Another option would be to contact organizations that are holding events for International Women’s Day and ask if they need any help.
Any volunteering you do on International Women’s Day is awesome, and donating your time is a great way to use the hours you’ve taken off for the strike. But if you’re going to look into volunteering for March 8, why not also do a little research about more long-term volunteering? There are a lot of organizations offering great services for women and girls that could use your help, but that may not be suited for drop-in volunteering on short notice. (For example, in many cases, you need background clearances before you can work with minors. Mentoring is a wonderful way to help girls, and worth the effort it might take to set up.) Again, volunteering on International Women’s Day is a great way to give back to your community — but by committing to volunteering on a weekly or monthly basis, you can help to ensure that the organizations you support have the resources they need year-round.