International Women’s Day—this Wednesday, March 8—is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The first International Women’s Day observance was in New York, in 1909.
This year, the campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange and asks us to take groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women. “Each one of us—with women, men and non-binary people joining forces—can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.”
A reality that always blows my mind is that just 50 years ago, it was believed that women were physiologically incapable of running a marathon. I repeat, JUST 50 YEARS AGO “smart people” advised that women shouldn’t run long distances lest their uteruses would fall out. That means your mother, or maybe you, had a fear of going outside and crushing a marathon and, if you tried, you’d probably be pulled off the race course. And you couldn’t even watch elite women do it because there was no space for them to do it either; before the 1980s, there were no women’s distance races in the Olympics. In the Moscow Games, the longest race for women was the 1,500 meters, which had been instituted in 1972. Even when women were finally given entry into the sport, there was no designated publication centered around the female experience; it wasn’t until 2009 that a women-specific running magazine existed. That magazine, Women’s Running, has been an incredible platform for normalizing the female athlete’s experience, from beginner to elite.
Despite these advances, there is still so much more work to be done.
- Women like Kelly Roberts and Candice Huffine, for example, remind us of how limiting the depictions of women in running and sport can be. They have dedicated their lives to showcasing the fact the strong doesn’t look a certain way—it looks and feels different for everyone.
- Transgender athlete Mack Beggs makes us aware of the fact that there is a long way to go before state and government policies are truly inclusive and respectful of our identities.
- Toni Carey, co-founder of Black Girls Run!, the largest running group for black women with about 200,000-plus members across the country, reminds us that while there has been an increase of Black women in the sport of running, there is still quite a long way to go as evidenced by staggering disparities in health outcomes.
- Runners like Rahaf Khatib remind us to challenge our assumptions about those of different faiths and to embrace the experiences of all women in running.
Bearing all of this in mind, I will #BeBoldForChange on March 8 by participating in a workout Wednesday morning with a group of women, men and non-binary people who share a love of the power of sport. If you are in New York, please join me and #Run4AllWomen at the November Project NYC workout Wednesday morning at 6:30am at Gracie Mansion. For more details, head here and follow me at @powderedfeet for updates.
If you can’t join me, how will you #BeBoldForChange?