International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on the 8th of March, is all about supporting women who face disadvantage, recognising our collective feminine achievements and uniting the community to be more gender inclusive. It’s the day we celebrate all the beautiful, incredible and badass women in our lives – while also campaigning to #PressforProgress, close the gender pay gap and bring our world just a little bit closer to gender parity.

Shar Moore, CEO of thriving magazine YMag, is one of those in the new wave of employers working to create a more empowered workplace culture. As an Indian woman who was raised in Thailand, Shar faced plenty of adversity. “Indian girls are told they can’t succeed, they don’t have a voice or a worthy message. You are born to get married at a young age. You have no purpose. This is the culture that I grew up with, and I was in an arranged marriage agreement from the age of thirteen,” she says. Shar was gifted an opportunity to escape the inequality of her upbringing, and on the back of this now says that “the crux of every business outcome for me has always and will always be, empowering women.” She believes women are the key to the next generation and if they’re nurtured in the work force and taught how to value themselves and believe in the skills they have to offer, they would play on an equal playing field to men.

There are many ways to celebrate the kick-ass ladies that inspire your course and yourself, while working to #PressforProgress. Here are just a few.

ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER

Lisa Pollock, an artist who recently collaborated with Shar on a female empowerment project at the Golden Globe Awards – snagging a snug spot in the Hollywood gift bags handed out at the awards, says “in my industry, the largest audience is women. This is often a driver to creating my artwork and affirmations. For me it is such a humbling experience to know that with the power of just one positive word from my affirmations may totally change someone’s day and give them the courage or belief to move forward with strength and determination.” It’s no secret that using positive language and words of affirmation can bolster spirits and increase productivity – both women agree that it’s time to regularly lift each other up in order to empower and inspire each other in daily life, and at work.

BE MORE GENDER INCLUSIVE

“Women need to feel they are worthy of the goals they set out to achieve and believe that their dreams are just important as their male counterparts. We need to work towards our goals and aspirations, no matter what gender,” says Shar. We have seen some enormous steps forward in sports with the emergence of AFLW and local stadiums being filled to capacity – but the gender pay gap is trending down, men still out earn women by more than $26,000 per annum, our boardrooms are still dominated by men and women are under-represented in management positions. What can you do? While you might feel like a little fish in a big ocean, every little bit helps. Overnight, Energy Australia shut down their gender pay gap, announcing women will be paid the same as male colleagues for doing the same job – all thanks to pressure from women campaigning for parity. Your task? Foster the dreams of the women around you. Tell them you believe in them, and work with them to #PressforProgress.

MAKE A #PRESSFORPROGRESS

One of the easiest ways to contribute to International Women’s Day is to share your story using the #PressforProgress, the official IWD campaign hashtag on social media. By pressing for progress, you are showing support for closing the gender gap, challenging gender biases and supporting other women.

SUPPORT AND INSPIRE THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE

Women supporting women is seriously uplifting, and at WF, we are all about that. Shar and Lisa know a thing or two about this. “We need to embrace the qualities in women and encourage them to explore their strengths. By acknowledging this, they will feel confident to progress in their community.  Women are incredibly strong, and we need to remind ourselves of this. It’s also important that we remember that there are other people we can lean in on for support.” Basically? It’s time to collaborate, not compete – and face this battle as a united, femme force.

HEAD TO A IWD EVENT

Is there an International Women’s Day event near you? Pop on over to their website, and you could be spending your morning at breakfast, networking with other women or heading to a workshop.  If you can’t make it to an event near you, Lisa suggests: “I usually arrange a single flower for each of the incredible women who I work with and include a message to remind them of how amazing they are!” Sending a card, grabbing a coffee or even a simple text message to your mum, girlfriend or sister will make their day.

How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day this year?