8 Women of the Past and Present to Celebrate for International Women’s Day 2016

Go Global By Christine Wardlaw March 8, 2016


The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8, 2016, is ”the pledge for parity;” parity means equality. The International Women’s Day organization celebrates the gains women have made, but feels that progress has slowed down, and wants to work toward achieving further gender equality.

Western Union celebrates women worldwide who are making, or have made, a difference in their own lives and the lives of others, breaking barriers, and making strides toward gender equality. Here are eight women from across the globe, from founders of small non-profits to gifted athletes, to celebrate on International Women’s Day.

Wangari Maathari – Environmentalist and Activist – Kenya

An environmentalist, activist, author, and champion of women’s rights. Ms. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization in Kenya that empowers women and their communities to conserve the environment and improve their livelihoods. The organization has planted over 51 million trees throughout Kenya, preserved public land and worked to bring about awareness of climate change and gender inequality in the country. For her, work Ms. Maathari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Mary Kalikawe – Businesswoman/Tour Director – Tanzania

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Tours in Tanzania. Inspired by the international publication The World of Women: Tanzania, Kiroyera Tours created a tour of the softer side of Tanzania, showcasing its wonderful and successful women. Tanzanian women talk about their livelihoods and trades, including coffee harvesting, jewelry creation, seaweed harvesting, Tinga-Tinga painting and international justice.


Mother Teresa – Missionary – India

A Catholic nun living in India, Mother Teresa, as she said herself, “belonged to the world.” She, along with her Missionaries of Charity organization, started with humble beginnings offering basic medical care to the poor people of Calcutta. Mother Teresa eventually grew her charity to thousands of members operating hundreds of missions worldwide, including hospitals, soup kitchens, counseling programs, schools and orphanages. For her work, she received many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mo’ne Davis – Athlete – America

At 14 years old, Philadelphia-born Mo’ne Davis breaks barriers wherever she goes. In the 2014 Little League World Series, she was the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout game in history. She then appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, won an ESPY Award, and even designed a line of sneakers for girls, with some proceeds going toward the Because I Am A Girl initiative, aiming to help 4 million girls out of poverty.

Carin Salerno & Elisabeth Thorens – Activists/Authors – Switzerland

Women in Action Worldwide (WaW) is a non-profit in Switzerland whose goal is to showcase and empower women around the globe through the book collection of The World of Women. Co-directors Carin Salerno and Elisabeth Thorens explore the daily lives of women in countries far and wide, starting with their first edition released last year, about the women of Tanzania. In 2016, they’ll be releasing two more books, focusing on the women of Myanmar and Switzerland.

Susan B. Anthony – Social Reformer and Activist – America

If you’re an American woman voting in elections this year, you have Susan B. Anthony to thank. She worked tirelessly throughout her lifetime not only for women to have the right to vote, but for many other women’s causes, including labor rights, land rights, education reform and gender equality. Eventually, her greatest dream was realized when the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. constitution in 1920, giving women the right to vote.


Laura Garcia – Non-Profit Executive Director – Mexico

As Executive Director of Semillas (seeds), Laura Garcia runs the only Mexican women’s fund, and works to gain land rights, better healthcare and economic development for women all around . As one of the youngest directors of a large organization in her country, Laura tirelessly carries out her mission through providing grants to dozens of local grassroots organizations designed to help and empower women.

On March 8, be sure to take a moment to tip your hat to the fantastic work these women do. Are there any amazing women you’d like to add to the list? List them in the comments!