International Women’s Day (IWD), observed annually on March 8th, holds immense significance as a focal point in the women’s rights movement. The empowering day celebrates the accomplishments of women across the globe and recognizes their contributions in various fields, from science and arts to politics and business. Beyond celebration, IWD also serves as a call to action, rallying people worldwide to accelerate progress toward gender parity. The origins of IWD trace back to 1909 when it began as National Women’s Day in the United States. Since then, March 8th has been a day to amplify women’s voices and advocate for equal rights and Denver has been home to one of the biggest IWD celebrations nation wide.


The IRC in Denver's staff, clients, and supporters together honored IWD 2024 by joining close to 900 like-minded individuals, and attending the WorldDenver Community Panel on Women’s Health Equity and the consecutive luncheon at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The Community Panel brought together leaders in women’s health equity from across the Rocky Mountain region including Chanda Hinton [Founder of the Chanda Center for Health], Olga Gonzales [Executive Director at Cultivando], Lily Griego [Regional Director at the US Department of Health & Human Services] and Dr. Tiamo Katsonga-Phiri [Director of the Trauma Disaster Recovery Clinic].  Each of these women brought their expertise, unique perspective, and personal history to the conversation, highlighting topics like trauma-informed care, health care accessibility, maternal mortality, and the intersection between federal government and state efforts.  

The panelists started out by sharing their work's inspiration, several highlighting their roots as immigrants and refugees, and speaking to their own mothers' bravery.  Dr. Katsonga-Phiri specifically urged attendees to stay curious when working with refugee communities in order to best understand intersections and cultural contexts. Similarly, Lily Griego and Olga Gonzales (both working with Latinx and immigrant communities within Denver and throughout the state of Colorado) both emphasized the importance of meeting communities where they are at, and understanding the unique barriers they face. While some communities, for example, may lack access to cellphones others might be best reached via text message. Other communities can lack physical access to specific health centers or face transportation barriers. All panelists agreed on the importance of creating specifically targeted interventions instead of focusing on broad stroke solutions. 

“I thought the International Women’s Day Community Panel was fantastic. Each of the speakers shared really inspiring stories about what drove them to care so much about women’s health equity,”

shared Jessica Blake, AmeriCorps VISTA Economic Empowerment Specialist at the IRC in Denver.

“We received really insightful information about changes we can make at the personal and local level to support our sisters.” 

Following the Community Panel, attendees were invited to an International Women’s Day Luncheon, honoring Dr. Margaret “Migs” Muldrow, known for her outstanding work in addressing maternal mortality rates in Ethiopia. Dr. Muldrow, who partners with healthcare officials and advocates in both the US and Ethiopia established the Village Health Partnership with the goal of providing quality community-based care to expecting mothers in Ethiopia. The luncheon further highlighted the incredible work of the Women’s Bean Project, a non-profit empowering women to create lasting change in their lives by establishing stepping stones to self-sufficiency through employment. Additionally, WorldDenver’s very own World Affairs Challenge, an initiative engaging 500+ students worldwide in an innovative competition supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals was honored. 

The Honorable Maryam Monsef, former Canadian Minister of Women and Gender Equity, acted as the luncheon’s keynote speaker. She shared her own story as an Afghan refugee, emphasizing the courage her mother exemplified during their grueling journey to Canada. Then, she touched on her longstanding career in the public service and her very personal experiences as an appointed and elected official. She encouraged the women in attendance to prioritize self-investment and urged them to continue making an impact.

“The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the Honorable Maryam Monsef's impassioned speech. Her words resonated with wisdom and a profound commitment to advocating for women's rights,”

says the IRC in Denver's Community Engagement Volunteer Sammiah Ebadi.

“Maryam's ability to articulate the challenges women face while emphasizing the strength derived from unity was truly moving. Her speech not only highlighted the progress that has been made but also underscored the work that remains to be done. Maryam's call to action left a lasting impression, igniting a renewed sense of motivation within me.” 

"I am so pleased to have been invited to Colorado’s largest International Women’s Day hosted by WorldDenver. I met female leaders from all over the world who worked in so many areas like economic development, gender equality, and as business executives. Many successful women leaders gave speeches I really enjoyed listening to and that were lessons for me on how to be a successful woman,"

concludes Amena Rezai, Community Engagement Intern at the IRC in Denver.

IWD is not only a day on a calendar, but a day honoring women who scarified their freedom for us. I truly hope for an inclusive world in which both men and women have equal opportunities and rights to education and work."   

The IRC in Denver is extremely grateful to have celebrated International Women’s Day 2024 alongside our outstanding partners at WorldDenver and can't wait to witness the changes brought forth by all the amazing women activists in attendance of the event!