An International Women's Day Special

03/06/2015 08:28 am ET | Updated May 06, 2015

This weekend marks International Women's Day, a global event where women and men across the world come together to celebrate the successes of other women and advocate for continued opportunities.

I've spoken to five successful women - Barbara van Beuren, Jessica Certo, Christine Metivier, Cheryl Roberts and Marcela Canon about what International Women's Day means to them, and how they are supporting other women. Leave your thoughts in the comments, or contact me on Twitter!

Barbara van Beuren is managing director at NYC-based real estate development firm Anbau, where she currently oversees acquisitions, design and marketing for all of the company's high-end residential projects, which include, most recently, condominium 155 East 79th Street.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?
To me, International Women's Day is really about showing support on an international scale for women's rights. Women everywhere are on the front line for instilling change through their roles as key influencers in their children's lives, helping to shape the future of both communities and countries as a whole. Through my involvement with The Pluralism Fund, a, sadly, now defunct funding collaborative incubated by The Philanthropy Workshop, I traveled with a group of fellow funders to Pakistan. While there, I gained firsthand insight into the challenges that women face when they are considered second-class citizens in their communities. For International Women's Day, I would like to shine a light on those women who find themselves unwittingly on the forefront of social change, to support their rights to good health, education and economic independence.

How are you supporting other women?
At Anbau, we feel that creating a 50:50 balance of male and female employees creates a balanced and productive work environment - especially in an industry like real estate and construction, which is traditionally male dominated. Half of our positions, from the financial side to the design side, are currently filled by women who are all amazing communicators, team players, hard workers and incredibly smart.

As Wine Director of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House New York, Jessica Certo is studying to join the elite group of Master Sommeliers while leading a wine team of four female sommeliers curating a 2,000 bottle wine list at one of Manhattan's leading steakhouses.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?
As a woman working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, International Women's Day is absolutely wonderful for the simple reason that it exists and has become an occasion to celebrate. We are continuing to recognize and appreciate the contribution women make to a vast number of fields. Symposiums and conferences geared towards women are popping up more frequently and addressing issues head-on, this is especially true in the wine industry. I am thrilled to be attending the global Women of the Vine symposium taking place in Napa this March as a chance to come together with fellow female leaders in the wine industry and brainstorm the future. Nothing is perfect, and there is still much to accomplish, specifically motivating women into the wine industry and encouraging them to the top levels of certification. With so few female Master Sommeliers, arguably one of the highest achievements in the industry, women must continue to inspire the next generation of women to forge their own paths in the field. I feel very lucky to have a day specifically dedicated to just that.

How are you supporting other women?
I support women largely through education. My mother always said "Knowledge is Power" and my pursuit and acquisition of knowledge has been the major factor of my current career success. In teaching weekly wine class, stepping in as an extra set of ears during a blind tasting group, or meeting up for coffee to discuss study subjects and techniques, I try to encourage and mentor the ladies around me in their pursuit of their goals. We are fortunate to sport an entirely female Wine Team at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House in New York which affords us a comfort within our four walls - we lean on each other. Additionally, a large majority of our guests are tempered to the fact that if they need a Sommelier, they are going to get a lady, not a gentleman which is the industry norm. This is not to say that ladies do the job better than men or vice versa, just that gender is not an issue in our house - there is less to prove. At the end of the day, the common goal for all in the wine industry, male and female alike, is a happy guest who thoroughly enjoyed their experience. I think there has long been a stigma that the industry is a 'boys club' and for a long time, it was. However, women are making amazing strides in all aspects of the wine world - Winemakers, Vineyard Owners, CEO's, Importers, Beverage Directors, and Educators and Sommeliers alike. The challenge continues to be shedding light on those achievements. Through education and encouraging both men and women there are new heights to be reached. It can't be about gender, it has to be about the love of the art.

Christine Metivier is the General Manager of Vice President of The New York Metro operation of Entertainment Cruises, a fleet of five vessels varying from dining cruises to private yachts.

What does international Women's Day mean to me?
International Women's Day is a day for all worldwide to stop and reflect on the challenges women have experienced in the past, celebrate all the progress that we have made, and determine how we will to continue to push forward. In celebrating this day, we have the opportunity to heighten awareness that we as women can achieve anything we strive for. Being in an industry dominated by male peers, I'm an example of what women can achieve in becoming a respected leader. International Women's Day can be dedicated to give thanks to those who have helped and inspired us personally and professionally to get where we are, and to remember the trailblazers who have broken barriers and paved the roads for us.

How am I supporting other women?
I would not characterize myself as being supportive to only women. If I notice a person striving to excel with drive and energy, I believe it is my duty to mentor them to achieve their maximum potential regardless of gender. With gender set aside, I promote based on performance and ability. I will always look to encourage and inspire the talented women within our company to maximize their career potential. I often share my story of how I started out as a Wedding Coordinator and moved my way up to Vice President and General Manager, in one of our largest operations in 2007. I have developed, promoted and retained some very talented women within our organization and will continue to do so as I feel it is important for a successful operation. For example, two departments within our industry that predominately male are the Kitchen Leaders and Marine. Today two of our five kitchens are being led by female Chefs and we have five female deckhands on the marine crew. Though it has not happened yet, I would love to see a female 1st Captain in our NY Metro operation in the near future.

Cheryl Roberts is an attorney and the Executive Director of The Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for reforms to the criminal justice system.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?
For women of my generation, the legal field was and continues to be male-dominated. Being heard and respected, a crucial part of successful advocacy, has been difficult at times. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of working alongside many inspiring women attorneys and non-attorneys in the criminal justice field. To me, International Women's Day is a day to acknowledge not only the unique obstacles women face but also the contributions and successes of all women, particularly those who dedicate their lives to helping people across the globe.

How are you supporting other women?
The Greenburger Center is a nonprofit organization that strives to reduce mass incarceration, end mandatory sentencing, reduce recidivism and provide alternatives to incarceration for justice-involved people suffering from serious mental illness. The policies of mass incarceration have left many women as the sole caretaker and provider of the family. I hope our efforts will help stem mass incarceration so that their children and the fathers of their children will not face a world where they have a better chance of being incarcerated than attending college. In addition, we will support the growing number of women who are incarcerated and suffering from mental illness by establishing an alternative treatment facility in 2016.

On a more personal level, I have raised two daughters who consider themselves feminists. They fiercely believe in the acceptance and equality of all genders and do not accept the limitations that many women of my generation faced. I think my daughters' achievements are in large part a consequence of their feminist worldview.

Marcela Canon is the Marine Biologist at St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico where she takes care of the endangered leatherback sea turtles, bird sanctuary, plant nursery and Caribbean manatees on the resort's grounds. She also leads special kayak tours, hikes through El Yunque and nature through the resort's nature center.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?
International Women's Day represents the recognition of amazing women who have opened doors and hearts by leading a path of life, love, and leadership creating equality in rights and opportunities, embracing other women and encouraging them to succeed going forward in the pursue of their dreams, never allowing their gender or the perception of others to stop them.

This day for me means the success of my beloved mother as a single mom, professional, university professor and great family member/friend and the celebration of her amazing life of self-giving in spite of her struggles. I am fortunate to have had many great women in my life. I love them and appreciate their existence. Women like my mom, my sister, my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins, my mother-in-law, my in-laws, my friends, my professors, women with whom I have worked.

It is the celebration of women as mothers, sisters, wives, friends, professionals, athletes, scientists, as valuable human beings. This is the opportunity to share our accomplishments in all different fields, being proud of our nature as women. It is also an opportunity to appreciate and recognize all those men that have supported women in their big enterprises or everyday chores. Men like my grandfather, my husband, brother, other family members, friends and coworkers.

How are you supporting other women?
I am supporting other women by setting an example, first with my two girls, who are growing to be amazing leaders and loving people, respectful of nature and life, full of dreams, talents and desire to always express their best. I have trained and supported a very professional group of women that have been my staff and provided opportunities for them to grow personally and improve their professional skills. These young women have also supported me and I have learned through their experiences.

As a leader that recognizes the important professional role of women, choosing qualified women to direct important environmental programs and projects in my home country. Through the Soul of Bahia foundation that I lead supporting young artists, some of them girls, also working with a home for mistreated girls to give them a hand and accompany them in their personal and professional growth. In my work where I share my passion for nature and get the commitment of staff, guests, members of the club and the local community understand to protect the environment.

When I meet young girls that want to become scientists or work in the environmental field that look for me to provide advice, I approach it as a biologist but also as a woman, it is the testimony of my life not just my profession that I share with them. To my daughters teaching them that what we take for granted, because it should be, is a life struggle for most women in other areas of the world. To appreciate their opportunities and support others who do not have the same ones.