International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also observed in support of taking action against gender inequality around the world. We all know the world couldn’t run without women (we mean, just listen to Beyoncé). This is the day to appreciate their efforts! Organizations large and small come together to show women just how valuable they are in today’s society.

Within our industry (parenting/maternal wellness/etc) there are women who continue to raise the standards for product innovation, are working to improve maternal wellness and mortality rates, and won't stop until they achieve such goals.

Continue reading to learn more about International Women's Day and share in our celebration of the women we're highlighting in our industry.

HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Susan B. Anthony was a political activist and an advocate of women’s rights. After the Civil War, she fought for the 14th Amendment that was meant to grant all naturalized and native-born Americans citizenship in the hope that it would include suffrage rights. Although the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it still didn’t secure their vote. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to continue the fight for women’s rights.

In the early 1900s, women were experiencing pay inequality, a lack of voting rights, and they were being overworked. In response to all of this, 15,000 women marched through New York City in 1908 to demand their rights. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. This was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

An International Women’s Conference was organized in August 1910 by Clara Zetkin, a German suffragist and leader in the Women’s Office. Zetkin proposed a special Women’s Day to be organized annually and International Women’s Day was honored the following year in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with more than one million attending the rallies. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and white women were granted the right to vote in the U.S.

The liberation movement took place in the 1960s and the effort led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, allowing all women the right to vote. When the internet became more commonplace, feminism and the fight against gender inequality experienced a resurgence. Now we celebrate International Women’s Day each year as we push continuously with the hope of creating a completely equal society

BY THE NUMBERS

Data gathered by a top Kansas City Marketing Agency

2021 — THE BIGGEST ISSUES FACING AMERICAN WOMEN

  1. Sexual violence (38%)
  2. Sexual objectification (35%)
  3. Unequal pay (34%)
  4. The ability to balance a career and children (32%)
  5. Underrepresentation in business leadership (20%)
  6. Reproductive rights (19%)
  7. Underrepresentation in politics (16%)

RANKING OF THE TOP 5 MOST POPULAR WORDS TO DESCRIBE FEMINISM

  1. Empowering 28%
  2. Positive 16%
  3. Unnecessary 15%
  4. Progressive 13%
  5. Meaningful 8%

MEET THE WOMEN LEADING THE PARENT/BABY INDUSTRY

Dara Chike-Obi, Founder & CEO, Griö Baby

What inspired you to start Grio Baby?

At two months postpartum, I was a full-time attorney AND working towards my MBA. For me, the feeding routine was the most intense activity in early parenthood and where I spent the most time. It was in this space I looked for baby products that not only addressed my child’s needs,  but acted as a parenting tool to help me run my busy life while allowing me to maximize precious moments with my child. I slowly started to realize that the time I spent away from my family and from the things that fulfilled me wasn’t worth my career as an oil and gas attorney. In fact, as a mid-career professional in a multi-national corporation, I began to feel that the ultimate “goal” (promotions, new roles, etc.) started to matter less and less and I had to use my time and talents on endeavors that had a real impact on people.

Is entrepreneurship common among your family?

Yes. My father started and continues to run his own private medical practice since the 80’s. This business has allowed him to act independently from major hospital processes and limitations that currently affect newer physicians. He’s never had a quarterly review, an employee evaluation, or had to play office politics. The older I got, the more I saw the value in that amount of independence.

How much does your cultural background influence your life today?

I’m first generation Nigerian-American and Nigerians are known to be intelligent hard-working people, and for the “can-do” and “never-say-never” attitude. My personality follows this description to the t. I’ve never been discouraged by the word “no” since it’s just a word. In reality you only need one “yes” to advance. Furthermore, it’s extremely important for me to stay inquisitive and to learn from every situation I find myself in...good or bad. There’s no finality in anything you do if you’re always evolving and getting better.

If you had a megaphone and an audience, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you?

I believe in the power of motherhood. I have always been a confident person, but it wasn’t until I had my son that I felt faster, stronger, and smarter to take on new risks. (after postpartum recovery of course). I think it’s important to treat moms and caretakers as some of the most valued people in society…like scientists and doctors. They deserve functional tools that help them run their already busy lifestyles while addressing their child’s needs; not more products that don’t consider the many hats they wear.

For more information about Grio Baby, watch their Demo Reel here. Interested in supporting their mission? Visit their Indiegogo Campaign here.

Radhika Patil, Founder & Chief Parent Officer, Cradlewise

Radhika Patil

Radhika Patil, originally from Bangalore, India, now based in San Francisco.

What inspired you to start Cradlewise?

Cradlewise was born out of our own need to ensure our baby could sleep safely and snugly. The transition from building a home-grown version for our baby to making a suitable commercial product was natural.

Having a baby is a startup experience in itself! When I had my daughter, she didn’t seem to be sleeping comfortably or long enough, and obviously, she wasn’t very pleased as a result. My husband Bharath and I spent a good portion of time putting her to sleep, and we became pretty frazzled in turn. Neither she nor we were getting much sleep.

That’s when we started searching for a crib, but we quickly realized it wasn’t as easy as popping into a baby store and buying whichever one caught our eye. I wanted to find a design that would make her feel warm and cozy, just like she would in her mother’s lap or arms.

When Bharath and I couldn’t find what we were looking for, we got down to making it ourselves. We were engineers, after all.

Papa and Mama’s home-engineered product was well received by our fussy client! She began to sleep longer, leaving her exhausted parents some extra time to catch up on work and much-needed sleep.

That was our first baby step to starting Cradlewise though we didn’t know it then. As time went by, we began to feel the need for more features and soon added a motor to the makeshift cradle that would swing it automatically. We learned the power of white noise in soothing infants, so we added music playback. When our daughter was around five months old, she started wiggling around in her cradle, and we decided we needed the ability to monitor her through a camera feed.

The crib evolved to suit our growing daughter’s needs. It gently rocked her to sleep, along with the sound of soothing music. She slept in it until she was nearly two!

We are now committed to building a crib that not only monitors babies but also impacts sleep.  We aim to ensure that babies enjoy the long hours they spend in the crib so that parents get some much-needed sleep tools.

Is entrepreneurship common among your family?

I come from a business community in India known to take risks and build businesses rather than look for a job. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer. He worked for the automobile industry before starting his own business in machine tools. My father is a surgeon, and he built his own hospital in India. He has been practicing for 35 years and has adopted new technologies in medical practice. He always encouraged me to take calculated risks and supported my entrepreneurial journey. I am very blessed to have an open-minded family who encourages me to take the path less traveled.

How much does your cultural background influence your life today?

My cultural upbringing has influenced me deeply. Being empathetic and people-first helped me build a team when the company was nothing but a concept and dream.

When I was expecting, my mother was a constant source of information and I was blessed to have the village of my mother and grandmother around when I gave birth to my daughter 8 years ago. My gentle parenting principles are directly influenced by my family and culture.

If you had a megaphone and an audience, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you?

Build/test/measure/repeat—every endeavor is an iteration. I believe in getting better by designing experiments and learning from them.

For more information about Cradlewise and to view their smart crib, visit their website here.

Alison Greenberg, Founder & CEO, Ruth Health

Alison Greenberg

Alison Greenberg is from Philadelphia and currently lives in The Bronx, NY. Her experience in the healthcare industry, combined with a background in conversational AI and brand strategy, propelled her to co-found her third startup, Ruth Health.

Alison is steadfast on improving women’s healthcare and providing a space for women to be seen and heard. She is the founder of the first East Coast chapter of Women in Voice, a nonprofit organization focused on amplifying opportunities for women and gender diverse people in the voice technology field. In addition, Alison is a proud LGBTQ+ leader and NY Planning Board member for StartOut, a non-profit champion for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship.

Alison has worked on clients such as Merck, Edwards Lifesciences, Verizon, and CVS Health. She is a graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in Anthropology and a YCombinator S’21 participant with Ruth Health.

What inspired you to start Ruth Health?

Alison began her adventures in “FemTech” by making a dreaded gynecological medical device, the speculum, more comfortable for vagina-owners. She and co-founder Audrey Wu, developed Dioptra, a patent-pending silicone sleeve for the speculum. Next, they quickly realized this was just one piece of a massive, outdated system, one that needs to include physicians but also welcome a range of other birthworkers—and the active participation of patients themselves.

Alison co-founded Ruth Health to make quality maternal health care accessible for every body, and deliver true wellness and joy.

She is on a mission to ensure the future of women’s healthcare is designed with women, by women. 1 in 3 mothers holds back questions because their prenatal care provider seems rushed. A minority of American women have access to pelvic floor physical therapy, and most can’t afford it.

With Ruth Health’s evidence-based expertise, parents are made active participants in their journey from pregnancy to postpartum. Ruth Health increases access, affordability, and joy around birthing care by matching patient needs to their expert know-how.

Is entrepreneurship common among your family?

Yes! Ruth Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vivian Greenberg, is Alison’s mother. Dr. Vivian brings over 40 years of experience as an OB/GYN and is the founder of Womencare, OB/GYN. She received her medical degree from the Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her residency at the Hospital of the Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Her grandmother (incidentally named Ruth—not the namesake of Ruth Health!) also owned a small independent flower shop in NYC. Alison comes from a lineage of several women who started businesses.

How much does your cultural background influence your life today?

Alison acknowledges there’s an immense privilege in being a woman under 30 without children. She is currently childless by choice but like any woman, experiences pressure to plan for children.

Her experience working with her mother early on in her teenage years as an OBGYN’s office assistant gave her insight into the perils that birthing women face. She realized the importance of providing care for women by women, not only to address gaps in an outdated system designed by men, but to increase opportunities for women to be actively involved in their own experience.

As an out and proud lesbian, Alison also feels a strong influence to provide culturally, LGBTQ+ competent care that acknowledges diverse perspectives, family structures, and the presence of chestfeeding—not just breastfeeding.

She’s also a Greek Jew, one of just 6,500 left in America. She feels a strong calling to make a positive impact on the world and represent her very small diaspora.

If you had a megaphone and an audience, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you?

This process requires endless empathy. It is draining and infinitely worthwhile. We lead with love. We are not your average startup founders. Ruth Health is not your average startup.

We won’t be done until pregnancy is equitable; until women are not in peril as they bring life into the world; until our sisters are not pushed into avoidable C-sections, pre-eclampsia is under control, and pelvic floor prolapse is treated as the serious, painful, potentially-avoidable problem it is—not a foregone, oft-ignored conclusion.

For more information about Ruth Health and to view their services, visit their website here.

Kathryn Cross, Founder & CEO, Anja Health

Kathryn Cross

Kathryn Cross is the founder of Anja Health, which she founded in memory of her brother, Andrew, who had cerebral palsy. Kathryn has cultivated a pregnancy and cord blood banking community on TikTok as @kathrynanja, where she raises awareness about the importance of cord blood banking and other issues related to pregnancy.  Originally from Los Angeles, Kathryn graduated from Wellesley, where she received a B.A. in Media Arts & Sciences and Economics.

What inspired you to start Anja Health?

I was inspired by my younger brother.  He had cerebral palsy and could've been saved by umbilical cord blood stem cells, but my family couldn't find a match for him because we're mixed race.

Is entrepreneurship common among your family?

Yes, my mom is an entrepreneur! She has previously been involved in real estate and healthcare ventures, but all of her businesses were completely bootstrapped.  Venture capital was completely new to my family when I started fundraising.

How much does your cultural background influence your life today?

My cultural background influences my life today immensely! I am half-Chinese and being the daughter of an immigrant puts a certain empathetic lens on everything that I do.  I always try to think about the most marginalized group that we could be impacting and how we can lower the barriers for them.

If you had a megaphone and an audience, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you?

Be empathetic.  Having a disabled brother and then attending Wellesley, a historically women's college, made me realize how important empathy is.  

For more information about Anja Health and to view their services, visit their website here.

Salwa Khan, Founder & CEO, Cubbiekit

Salwa Khan

Salwa Khan is the Founder & CEO of Cubbiekit, the easiest and most sustainable subscription service for baby essentials. Based in Austin, Texas, she’s a mother of two who enjoys cooking with the family, traveling, streaming anything from the couch and learning how to paint and play the piano.

What inspired you to start Cubbiekit?

After my first pregnancy, I realized how much time and money I was wasting shopping for clothes for my daughter. She had sensitive skin, and safe, non-toxic organic clothing was expensive. She grew fast, and I found myself shopping every few weeks for the same wardrobe. Every time she had a growth spurt, there was this anxiety that would arise as her outgrown clothing would pile up– should I put it in storage, but what if I don’t want more kids? Do I have a friend that might want it, but what if they don’t like it? I can drop it into that clothing donation bin, but what happens to those bins anyway?

I started searching for a service that had accessibly-priced, high-quality organic cotton, season-less, mix and matchable colors, was conveniently delivered when it’s time to size up, and was being created responsibly. There wasn’t anything out there that checked all the boxes out right. That’s when I got to working on Cubbiekit.

Is entrepreneurship common among your family?

Not in my immediate family. My mother is a pediatrician and my father is an engineer. As the daughter of two parents who immigrated from Pakistan, the track was always to prioritize a stable profession with a comfortable salary that could provide for my future family. It’s common for the children of South Asian parents to pursue careers in medicine, engineering, law, or business. I took that path as well and became a CPA out of college and worked in corporate finance for the first 10 years of my career. I would never have believed anyone 10 years ago if they told me I’d be an entrepreneur one day!

How much does your cultural background influence your life today?

A great deal now! Growing up in the suburbs of Houston, I recognized I was different – my name, the color of my skin, what we ate at home, where we went to pray, what we wore to celebrations. For some reason, I felt that I needed to segment pieces of my life for fear of social rejection. The “American” version of myself brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school and the “Pakistani-heritage” version of myself would eat keema, lentils and rice at home with my hands. As I grew older, I learned to love and embrace these differences, my culture, and my heritage and now wear it very proudly and loudly!

If you had a megaphone and an audience, what's one thing you'd want people to know about you?

Sustainability isn’t just for environmentally-conscious consumers – it’s for everyone! Farming for cotton in ways that won’t pollute our ecosystem, providing fair living wages and safe working conditions for employees, and using materials that won’t clutter up the planet for centuries should be the standard for creating products. At Cubbiekit, we want to make it easy and accessible for parents to shop for better quality, thoughtfully designed products (that won’t outlive their kids).

For more information about Cubbiekit, visit their website here.

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