We Asked 17 Women What International Women’s Day Really Means to Them — This Is What They Told Us


International Women’s Day is a globally renowned day where we take time to celebrate the power of women. We celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women on this day, and work together to accelerate gender parity.

Originally started by Clara Zetkin, a communist activist and advocate for women’s rights — who suggested the idea in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen — the day has been in action for over a century.

But in an ever-evolving world where female empowerment, gender equality, and celebrating diversity are at the forefront — shouldn’t every day be International Women’s Day? And more to the point, what does IWD mean to everyday women?

POPSUGAR Australia caught up with 16 women from different industries and backgrounds to ask them how they really feel about IWD.

Kate Barr — Chef

via Instagram @cakebarr

“International Women’s Day is an important day to recognise the immense strength, power, and resilience of women all over the world who fight every day for empowerment and equal human rights,” Barr tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“Empowerment is being able to make choices regarding our own bodies, to gain access to free education, healthcare, and financial independence, and to create a path in life of our own choosing.

“When women are empowered with these things, we reinvest crucial amounts of resources back into the community economically, educationally, and culturally.

“As a female chef in a fairly male-dominated industry, I feel empowered by teaching other women the skills that have made me successful in my field. Sharing these skills ensures that other women can succeed and grow. Unless all women exist in an equitable space in restaurants we can’t thrive in the same way as those with more privilege might. Food for me is always about telling stories and I want to hear the voices of everybody.”

Barr’s cookbook, “Best Recipes for Bad Chefs, Vol. 1” is set to be out soon. Follow her here to get all the delicious updates.

Maeva Heim — Beauty Brand Founder

“For me, International Women’s Day means means opening doors to women who are coming along behind me, so we can all see greater success together,” Heim tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“We have the power to change the things we don’t like about our chosen industries — and to give back along the way. For me, that’s what it’s all about.

“IWD is a moment for everyone to acknowledge the impact that women have made, and to speak honestly about the challenges ahead that we need to tackle.”

You can follow Heim’s beauty brand (haircare for babes with curls, fuzz, frizzy bits, bangs, braids, bantu, other bits) on Instagram here.

Emmy Mae Poole — Creative Director, Photographer, Designer

via Instagram @hot_tuna_

“To me, International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the achievements of women everywhere,” Poole tells POPSUGAR Australia. “To reflect on the progress we’ve made and to recognise those special people who paved the way forward for us.”

“It’s also a reminder that there’s still a long way to go in creating an industry and a world that’s fair and inclusive — we should continue to empower each other every single day.

“I feel truly blessed for the opportunities I’ve had to collaborate and work alongside so many talented and inspiring women. Sharing a network of like-minded humans fills me with so much joy and inspiration. IWD EVERYdamnDAY!”

You can follow her label, Studio Marlene, on Instagram here.

Terri-Leigh Jacobs — Business Coach, Model

via Instagram @terrileighjacobs

“International Women’s Day holds a special place in my heart as it represents a new era of empowerment for women worldwide,” Jacobs tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“It’s a time to celebrate our achievements, empower one another to live life on our own terms, write our own narrative of what success means, and lift one another up — no matter where we are on our journey.

“Together, we can make a real difference with our shared determination. For me, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the immense power we hold as women.”

You can follow her work on Instagram here.

Veronika Chekmareva — Actor, Communications

via Instagram @vecheee

“As a young girl growing up in Moscow, International Women’s Day always held a special place in my heart,” Chekmareva tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“It has a very rich history back home — it was first celebrated in Russia in 1917, a time of great social and political upheaval.

“The day is a demonstration of women demanding the right to vote and improved working conditions. It played an important role for the Russian Revolution and has since become a national holiday in Russia. I remember my dad always brought us flowers in the morning that day. So to me, it will always be a day of celebration no matter where I am geographically.

“Acknowledging IWD provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and to highlight the ongoing struggle for gender equality. Female empowerment is important because it identifies the challenges that women face and to ensure that they have the same opportunities as men to achieve their full potential and contribute to society.

“We do it for ourselves, for our sisters, mothers, trans femmes, and the future generations.”

Bernice Corral — Content Producer

Photo provided

“IWD to me shines light on the importance of engaging in conversations regarding intersectional feminism for those who identify outside of the binary as well as women of colour,” Corral tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“IWD is both a day to celebrate and commend those women and female-identifying people who continue to fight for our seat at the table, but also a reminder to continue to practice this advocacy outside of the social media space, and beyond a single day in the year.”

Gita Zimmermann — Artist, Designer

“IWD is an opportunity to shine a brighter light on women’s experiences and stories in what is still a journey towards gender equality (which by the way, is still 132 years at the current rate of progress, according to The Global Gender Gap Report 2022),” Zimmermann tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“My own life has been immeasurably enriched by the support of my solid female friendships — especially during my mid-late 20’s — something I lacked consistent access to growing up due to moving frequently, but am now grateful for everyday.

“Women supporting and celebrating other women is one of the most gorgeous things to witness — which is what IWD is all about.

“My hope is it will continue to be a marker of progression, a light on issues still needing attention, and to inspire the women of today and many future generations to come.”

You can follow her art platform and space for representation and diversity through art on Instagram here.

Tessa Consedine — Master of Global Studies Student

via Instagram

“I spent a while thinking about this because I’ve never really celebrated International Women’s Day,” Consedine tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“Part of me sees it a bit like Valentine’s Day — like love, shouldn’t women be celebrated every day? I can’t help but feel that it’s tokenistic in a world where gender equality is still largely misunderstood.

“But for me, IWD is about voice. The best people that I know are women, and it’s about spotlighting their stories, because in each one there is a story of perseverance, resilience, and determination.

“This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity. I love this theme as it encourages us to recognise that we all have different starting points in life and will require differing levels of support to have equal opportunity.”

Hannah Vanderheide — Writer, Actor, Mum

via Instagram @han.vee

“My feelings are a bit equivocal, and I run the risk of appearing cynical here, but one part of me sees the day as a little tokenistic,” Vanderheide tells POPSUGAR Australia. “It’s just not enough.”

“Honestly, every day ought to be International Women’s Day. Women are phenomenal and it’s not enough to only acknowledge that for 24 hours.

“For me it’s a day of reflection — it’s both a chance to pause and consider the impact of all the incredible women I’m blessed to be surrounded by, but also a moment to reflect on how far we still have to go when it comes to creating a safer, more equitable world for us all.

“This year, I’ll be celebrating with a group of ultra inspiring women at a lunch celebrating women in business, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it.”

You can follow her here.

Genevieve Phelan — Communications Consultant

via Instagram @genevieve.phelan

“International Women’s Day means celebrating all of the powerful female relationships around me, and taking stock of what I’ve achieved in the last year of running a business solo,” Phelan tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“Some of my greatest heroes are generous industry mentors, editors who’ve watched me grow, and clients that never fail to inspire.

“Outside of work, I’ll be giving a huge hug to my immensely strong single mother who has taught me to be an independent and ambitious woman, as well as my remarkable girlfriends (old and new).”

You can follow her incredible work here.

Juliet Sulejmani — Illustrator, Writer

via Instagram @julietfromtheinternet

“I often become angry when I am reminded of how deeply entrenched patriarchal culture is in our modern society, and how women are often treated differently than men,” Sulejmani tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“There is a great deal of work, education, and change that needs to be done. International Women’s Day provides an excellent opportunity for women to come together, share their stories and power, and help raise awareness and inspire both women and men to work together to help build a world that values women as equals.”

You can follow her beautiful creations here.

Hayley Peppin — Writer

via Instagram @hayleypeppin

“IWD is about recognising the adversities women before us faced,” Peppin tells POPSUGAR Australia, “honouring the pioneers of today and acknowledging the small steps and successes we make each day in our plight for gender equality.”

“For me, I think about my nanna who fearlessly fled Austria for a new life in Australia and my mum who moved abroad at 19 with next to no money, forging multiple careers in London and Canada.

“For those stuck on how to participate, I advise celebrating the sisterhood via a wine with the girls, sharing your best bad-ass moments; watching a doco on women’s rights or a film by a female director (hello, Greta Gerwig); and/or guilt-free purchasing something from a women-owned business.”

You can follow her writing here.

Zara Madrusan — Business Owner, Mum

via Instagram

“For me, IWD is a day of activism and advocacy,” Madrusan tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“An opportunity to connect with the women in my community, at live events or by tuning into forums, to hear and share their stories.

“Each year I use my platform to raise awareness and funds for one of the numerous incredible female-run initiatives.
Whilst the power remains predominantly in the hands of others, female empowerment must be the focus.

“The work needs to be done, in all industries, in all areas of politics, by women, with women, for women.”

You can follow her businesses here.

Myfanwy Rolfe — Creative Events Producer


“International Women’s Day serves as both a call to action and a global reminder that gender equality has not been achieved,” Rolfe tells POPSUGAR Australia. “It offers a chance for introspection and gratitude.”

“It’s heartening to witness businesses taking a momentary break to ‘Action IWD’ and genuinely pondering whether they have consciously given women an equal opportunity to lead, whether women are already in the driver’s seat or if they’re simply being given a turn at driving.”

Get in touch with her here.

Emma Maggs — Producer, Director, Artist

via Instagram @emmakatemaggs

“International Women’s Day is a day I really look forward to for so many reasons,” she tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“It’s a day where I get to outrageously celebrate the successes of the women in my community and beyond, look to the inspiring women who are blazing the trail and just how far we’ve come to not be given a seat at the many tables around the world, but how we’ve thoughtfully created our own. 

“It’s a day I use to reflect, and check in on myself and the work I do with others. I am only where I am today because of the strong women who mentored me, believed in me, and pushed me to aim really gloriously high towards my dreams. How am I helping the women coming up through the ranks to do the same?

“It’s a day where Australia, as a country, can dig in and ask ourselves — are we doing enough to ensure women are given the opportunity to succeed in life, and in particular after childbirth, so that we are not behind in our trajectory, our savings, and our retirement plans.

“It’s also a day where I celebrate myself holistically, and all my achievements personally and professionally. It’s such an important practice to acknowledge just how far you’ve come, to take a breath, and marinate on the highs and lows of all the things. You are ultimately a better person today because of it and will continue to evolve long after it. 

“International Women’s Day is a brilliant reminder that we’ve come so far, and we still have work to do. So let’s roll. Up. Our. Sleeves. And channel Erin Ghallager and be the #hypewoman that every young girl, aspiring business women, mother, and older woman needs today.”

You can follow her current photography project here.

Élodie Tour — Model

via Instagram @elodie.tour

“International Women’s Day to me means celebrating the incredible, brave women that surround me and came before me,” Tour tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“Coming from a woman who migrated to Australia by herself, I am constantly in awe of the sacrifice and bravery of that woman, my mother.

“We celebrate women everyday because they’re a blessing to society.”

You can follow Élodie here.

Tina Buchan — Creative Director, Business-Owner, Fashion Queen

via Instagram

“International Women’s Day reminds me to be grateful,” Buchan tells POPSUGAR Australia. “I am forever grateful to women who forged this path to now.”

“I can’t imagine living without choices, freedom and the right to speak my mind. My small contribution is to pay it forward — by showing other women how to be confident and strong through setting a good example. I don’t allow people to treat me in any way than the way I want to be treated.

“I try to be a proud woman every day for myself, but even more so for my kids. Young eyes see everything. I try to show them that I’m proud of myself, that I’m confident in my decisions, that I’m proud of my body and how I look and that I always deserve to be treated with respect.

“I hope that my daughter will grow up to demand the same rights, but also that my son can see that equity is the only way.”

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