"Today is International Women's Day Mummy," my 7-year-old son solemnly informed me last Friday. "What did you get?"

Good question. And the answer isn't what you might think, because I did get something.


Lots and lots of emails.


All containing targeted advertising.

"Happy International Women's Day. Enjoy 30 per cent off all female products today only."

"Celebrate International Women's Day with 25 per cent off all hair products."

"It's Women's Day, enter this code for 20 per cent off all dresses."

Yes. Because nothing says let's celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women like a discount on hair removal products or beauty tools.

As I steadily hit "unsubscribe" on each email as it came in, (if you want to use this day as a way to sell me stuff, I am going to use it as a reason to stop receiving your advertising), I wondered what Kate Sheppard would make of it all.

Now, I am not saying beauty has no place in feminism and women's rights. In
1912, Elizabeth Arden marched alongside suffragettes in New York handing out red lipstick as a symbol of solidarity, but International Women's Day wasn't created for businesses to sell to the "pink dollar".

International Women's Day isn't about making yourself look pretty, it is about putting a global focus on equality and women's rights.

This year's theme for the day was #BalanceforBetter, looking at how we need a gender balanced world - the better the balance, the better the world.

And luckily, there was plenty of balance last Friday, to counteract the beauty focused advertising that flooded my inbox.

NZME (the company the Stratford Press is part of) celebrated the day in a range of ways.

The ZM breakfast show was taken over by with drive host Bree Tomasel and day host Bel Crawford joining Megan Papas on the show and featured a range of special guests including Jacinda Ardern.

The Herald and online magazine E-Tangata told video stories of six inspirational Māori and Pasifika women while Viva asked a range of inspirational women photographers to submit an image they felt captured the spirit of International Women's Day.

Locally Emma Helleur, the day announcer on the Hits Taranaki, interviewed a range of women based in or from the region who have achieved great things in a range of fields, from sports to media, charity work to the arts.

As one of the women featured, I was honoured to be part of it. (Although I suspect my inclusion was purely because Jacinda wasn't available!)

While the focus is on women for the day, men are very much a part of International Women's Day.

Balance is not a women's issue, it is a business issue and a world issue. Communities, economies and businesses all need it to thrive in today's world.

(And, in case you are wondering, yes there is an International Men's Day, it's on November 19!)

Whatever your gender, I hope you spent at least a few minutes last Friday considering if the world around you is as balanced as it could be, and if not, what you can do about it.

As for the businesses trying to leverage the day to sell hair straighteners and shampoo - well, they can take their discount and shove it ... no, not there!

But how about they take those dollars they were willing to write off in a discount and put it into something good.

One of the many charities working for women around the world perhaps - Equality Now, Women's Global Empowerment Fund, Women for Women International, School Girls Unite or the Orchid Project to name just a few.

I might just re-subscribe to those emails then.