International Women's Day - Celebrating Women in Philanthropy

February 27, 2024

Happy International Women's Day! This important day is an excellent opportunity to inspire students with stories of women making a positive impact in the world and helping them learn that they have the power to make a difference, too.

Women philanthropists come from all different backgrounds and experiences, and their contributions to philanthropy are deep and far reaching. From celebrities to politicians to social justice warriors, women are carving a path in philanthropy that is creating waves of impact around the globe.

Women Who Give

When we hear the word "give", our minds, and students' minds, tend to lean towards the idea of monetary giving, where we give money to something or someone to make a difference. But there are so many ways to give and many women philanthropists are finding ways to give back to the world in their own, unique ways. 

Here are just a few women philanthropists to help inspire your students!

1. Melinda Gates : Superhero for Global Health

  • Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has dedicated her life to improving global health and education. Talk with your students about Melinda's work in eradicating diseases and providing access to quality education for children worldwide. 

2. Malala Yousafzai: A Young Advocate for Girls' Education

  • Malala Yousafzai, although still young, has become a powerful advocate for girls' education globally. Use Malala's story to highlight her courage and determination to ensure that every girl has the right to receive an education. Using Malala's story, encourage students to think about why it is important that every girl has the right to an education, no matter where they live in the world.

3. Mackenzie Scott (formerly Bezos): Making Big Moves in Giving

  • Mackenzie Scott is all about spreading the wealth and doing good. Since her divorce from Jeff Bezos, she's been on a giving spree, donating billions to various causes like education, racial equity, and poverty alleviation. Talk to your students about those three buckets and why they think each are important to address.

4. Taylor Swift: Championing Equality and Education

  • Taylor Swift isn't just a pop sensation; she's also a fierce advocate for equality and education. Taylor regularly uses her platform to make a positive impact on the world. Ask your students why they think her star power helps to elevate the causes she is passionate about.

5. Nancy Richardson: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Champion of Education

  • Nancy Richardson co-founded the cell phone case company, OtterBox, and started the OtterCares Foundation. Focusing on helping kids learn how to be entrepreneurs and philanthropists themselves, Nancy is passionate about helping young people discover their purpose and passions through education. Ask your students why they think it is important to learn about giving back as a kid and as an adult.

More than Just Talk - Women Who Take Action

Women philanthropists look at their community, their cities and the world and think about ways their actions can create impact. Whether they use their time, talent or treasure, they are committed to making the world better and brighter by being givers. 

Why do women philanthropists think its important to give? Check out these quotes from just a few of the women philanthropists who are making huge waves of impact.

  • “Giving is a universal opportunity. Regardless of your age, profession, religion, income bracket, and background, you have the capacity to create change.” -  Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author.
  • “Philanthropy is not about the money. It's about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.” - Melinda Gates, philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft.
  • "I raise up my voice — not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard...We cannot succeed when half us are held back." — Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
  • "I choose to rise up out of that storm and see that in moments of desperation, fear, and helplessness, each of us can be a rainbow of hope, doing what we can to extend ourselves in kindness and grace to one another. And I know for sure that there is no them - there's only us." - Oprah Winfrey, talk show host.
  • "My Stepfather once told me the greatest thing I could do with my life was to use my talents to improve the lives of others around me. I carry those words with me every day." -Kendra Scott, fashion designer and entrepreneur.

Igniting Future Philanthropists

These are just a few examples of strong women using their voice, resources, time and passions to change the world and make it better. And we can use their stories to inspire the next generation of kiddos to do the same! Here are some easy ways to celebrate International Women's Day by spotlighting women philanthropists.

  • Pick two or three women philanthropists to introduce to your students when talking about International Women's Day to highlight the incredible work they are doing to serve others and make a difference. Ask your students to research the cause or nonprofit they lead or share more about what each woman is doing to make a difference, and then start a conversation.
    • Why is it important that girls have access to education?
    • Why should we want to provide healthcare to people around the world?
    • What are some needs we see in our community?
  • Use the quotes to spark critical thinking and help students ideate ways they can use their time, talent and treasure to start giving back.
    • What does this quote mean to you?
    • If you had to choose the three most powerful words in this quote, what would they be?
    • How could you model this quote in your daily life?
  • Break out some books! Check out the books below and use one (or three) to help students better understand the contributions women are making to philanthropy.
      • Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier
      • Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown (available in English and Spanish)
      • Make a Stand: When Life Gives You Lemons, Change the World! by Vivienne Harr
      • Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf by Olivia Bouler
      • A Smart Girls Guide: Making a Difference: Using Your Talents and Passions to Change the World by Melissa Seymour
      • Young Changemakers: Making a Difference by Stacy Bauer 
      • Young Changemakers: Inspiring Others by Stacy Bauer
      • Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around The World by Garth Sundem
      • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
      • Be A Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson

Project Heart also offers a library of FREE resources! From coloring pages to fun worksheets, our resources are designed to help engage students in the topic of philanthropy by encouraging them to see themselves as change-makers who can make a difference.


The Story of Women is the Story of All of Us

International Women's Day is an important day to recognize all that women have contributed to our world and remind girls and young women that their dreams and aspirations can come true.

From starting businesses, creating laws, leading countries and going to space, women have broken down barriers and established themselves as passionate and determined individuals who are on a mission to make the world better.

Philanthropy is simply the love of human kind. And everyone who believes this and takes action to improve the lives of other humans is a philanthropist.