‘Why not you?': Minnesota leaders celebrate International Women's Day

From a record number of women running for president to an all-female space walk, there is a lot to celebrate on International Women’s Day. 

Dating back more than a century to 1911, the day is observed each year on March 8 and is growing both locally and around the globe.

“I’m really honored and humbled to be the first anything, especially when you are in a system that was not created by you,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan.

As the highest-ranking native woman in the country, Lt. Gov. Flanagan spoke from the heart to an overflowing group at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The focus this International Women's Day was celebrating the many accomplishments of indigenous women. 

“Every single woman in this room should like burn that into your brains,” said Senator Tina Smith (D). “Why not you? Who else but you? That to me should be the message of this day celebrating the leadership of indigenous women and celebrating the leadership of women internationally and in this country.”

Not far away, the American Swedish Institute spent the day honoring African women. From politics to health, organizers admit a lot is crammed into one day. 

“If you come from low socioeconomic community, it doesn’t matter if you come from African-American community or communities of color, it’s really that respite time doesn't time doesn’t exist,” said Fartun Weli, founder of Isuroon. “That's why we bring everyone together today and remind them you are so important, you are so critical, but also saying how do you connect with non-ethnic groups?”

Around the world, similar gatherings took place with a theme of "Balance for better." The initiative is aimed at gender equality, including reducing the global pay gap between men and women and ensuring gender balance in government and business. 

“We need more leaders like everybody in this room,” said Sen. Smith.