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The first time I ever heard of International Women’s Day was in 2003. I was living in Rome, Italy, and working for a UN agency. A kind man gave me a beautiful collection of yellow mimosas – an Italian custom to celebrate women each year on March 8. These flowers were on sale in virtually every newsstand I passed and could be found in the hands of dozens of other women.

“What a nice holiday,” I thought.

Years later, I – like most women – need more than flowers.

How had I not known about this international day before? Especially when I had spent years writing about sexual and reproductive health and rights for SELF and other top women’s magazines?

The U.S. has been slow to recognize this day even though it originated here in 1910, and it’s an official holiday or widely observed in many other countries. Instead, each U.S. president since 1988 has proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month and an opportunity to reflect on the contributions women made in shaping our nation’s history.

National and international observances can help raise awareness and, in public relations, serve as a valuable “news hook” to make certain stories more relevant and timely as we pitch reporters. Try searching “International Women’s Day” and see the range of stories about women that now get covered thanks to this international holiday.

Fortunately, many important stories about women’s lives have come into the public consciousness in recent years without the excuse of a holiday. 2018 was roundly called the Year of the Woman, inspired in part by the historic political victories by women. Professionally, I began that year in a #metoo-fueled media frenzy, successfully getting a client’s unique insights about male-female dynamics covered by the New York Times, New York Magazine, BBC, and more.

Our voices are continuing to rise and be heard beyond the month of March. Personally, I am enjoying a sense of peace that I didn’t even know was missing until I began to experience women’s lives being more fully reported.

Still, I enjoy seeing the additional uptick in activity in March as more and more Americans have come to embrace International Women’s Day. This year felt particularly special to me because I spent March 8 talking about my role supporting the world’s upcoming largest conference on gender equality with my new client, Women Deliver. I am beyond thrilled to be working with this amazing organization to help drive investment – political and financial – in the lives of girls and women worldwide.

I also spent part of the day emailing with the director of the Maternal Health Initiative at the Wilson Center – another current client. We have been working together to get the word out about her research on the economic, health and societal impacts of caregiving. In addition to dominating the paid caregiving space, women constitute the bulk of unpaid caregivers in the U.S., and without more supportive policies, face any number of physical, mental, financial, and professional challenges as a result.

It can be easy and/or tempting to question or even mock a given day or month designed to recognize half of the world’s population (this satirical essay in the New York Times is worth reading). But we should not wish these events away too quickly. As long as our reproductive rights remain under attack, and gender bias, unequal pay, sexual abuse and harassment and other violence against women persists, we need to keep these pins in the calendar as yet another reminder that there’s still a hell of a lot of work left to be done.