Turn up quintessential songs celebrating women for International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

There are always secret songs that we crank up to get us through a moment. I’ve never seen Titanic, but when I hear “My Heart Will Go On,” the image comes to mind from the Celine Dion music video with the iconic clip of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, her arms outstretched, his arms around her waist, the wind blowing their hair at the bow of the ship. For some reason, it even got in my head that Titanic was a musical, but I digress.

Why is this lifelong rocker referencing a ubiquitous Celine ballad? My point, simply, is when you hear a song, it often evokes power, an image, and can change your mood, even motivate you. And, no, no, no, that song is not it for me. I change the channel. But it’s that image with that song – that mood.

March is Women’s History Month — March 8th, International Women’s Day — and I wanted to pick a song list that would make me feel that power that those two portray in the film (even though I do know the ending and it’s a song about enduring love, not female empowerment). I believe it’s called the “I’m Flying” scene.

This week I took a big leap and said yes to hosting/emceeing an awards show in a room I considered big in front of people I know but many I don’t. At first, I said no, but then I asked for a day to think about it. I’ve never felt powerful. I’m 5’2”. I’ve never been able to command a room. My humour is more deadpan, and I can’t sing or tap dance. I’m not outgoing, and despite choosing an occupation in which I have to talk to people for a living (music journalism), I dread parties and talking to strangers and like to shrink in a room.

All this to say that International Women’s Month is about opportunity, safety, and freedom. As a white woman here in Canada, I have it. In many countries around the world, they don’t — still. They can’t study; they can’t drive; they can’t vote; they can’t wear what they want; they can’t leave the house without their husband’s permission; and they certainly can’t be music journalists, front rock bands, or host an awards show.

I know we have our own problems over here to sort out and demand equal pay to safety in the workplace and on the streets, as well as the protection of our right to choose, but there are brave women fighting for those freedoms in other, less democratic countries. See this 2020/2021 Women Peace and Security Index and United Nations Gender Inequality Index.

So on this March 8th, below I pick 8 songs — some written by men — that speak to that freedom, to songs that inspire, that make women feel they are standing on a bow, that they’re flying (even if that ship goes down), and can do absolutely anything or have the right to try.

Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me

Aretha Franklin – Respect

David Bowie – Suffragette City

Emmy Meli – I Am Woman  (note: not a cover]

Helen Reddy – I Am Woman

Nancy Sinatra — These Boots Were Meant For Walking

Beyoncé — Run The World (Girls)

Rachel Platten — Fight Song