Ever since 1975, International Women's Day — a day to celebrate the achievements of women around the world — has come with an accompanying theme. Come Saturday, March 8, the world will look to commemorate this year's theme of "inspiring change" and challenge the status quo for the betterment of female equality.

In the world of travel, change is underway, with the global travel market made up by 64 per cent of women, according to 2013 data from Intrepid Travel. Women are also a driving force when it comes to business travel, with half of female business travellers holding 85 per cent of the purchasing power, according to CNN. It's also estimated that 80 per cent of all business travel decisions are made by women.

Solo female travel has also changed. In a poll of travel agents, an estimated 59 per cent saw an increase in female travel clients travelling by themselves now compared to 10 years ago.

And yet, despite the evolution of the female traveller, there are still barriers. Instances of blatant of sexism directed not only to women who travel, but work in the travel, tourism and aviation industry is still very much alive. The threat of sexual violence and abuse is still prevalent in certain countries that even governments continue to encourage women to ware fake wedding rings to discourage unwanted attention.

It's clear there's still work to be done, but the signs are positive. Inspiration and change in the realm of travel won't come by staying home. To commemorate this year's theme, the Huffington Post Canada Travel looked back to the past at some of the earliest female travellers, writers, and activists as a source of future inspiration for all women. Here are our picks:

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What's your most memorable travel quote you've ever come across? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @HPCaTravel

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  • Sheryl Sandberg

    Sheryl Sandberg’s white-hot 2013 bestseller, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," has galvanized into a nationwide movement that is committed to helping women achieve their goals by "leaning in to their ambition" and sharing their stories with one another -- through community, education and innovative Lean In Circles. "A truly equal world," maintains Sandberg, "would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes."

  • Samantha Powers

    Forty-three-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar Samantha Powers was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in August, and she immediately dove into the Syrian conflict with strength and deft diplomacy. Last month, she zinged the Russians for their political persecution of the punk band Pussy Riot by saying she’d join the group if they asked her to; and now she's tackling the Ukraine upheaval with equal candor and aplomb. Whip smart and cool under fire, she is a woman to watch -- and admire.

  • Mary Barra

    Mary Barra broke boundaries -- and made history -- when she became the first female CEO of a major global automaker, General Motors, in January. She began her career with the company when she was just 18, then worked her way through the ranks, at one point managing the Detroit assembly plant. Now at 53, she’s the boss. Well done!

  • Wendy Davis

    As a State Senator from the 10th District in Texas, 50-year-old Wendy Davis delivered an 11-hour filibuster last June, decrying the Draconian measures outlined in a proposed bill that dramatically restricted the reproductive rights of women in her state. Although the bill ultimately passed, Davis’ electrifying oration catapulted her to national political stardom. Now, she's in the current race for Governor of the state.

  • Ellen DeGeneres

    Everybody’s favorite talk-show host nailed her emceeing chores for this month’s Oscar broadcast with hilarity and style -- keeping folks laughing, ordering pizza for the audience and making history by actually crashing Twitter with her unexpected selfie amid a gaggle of cinematic superstars. Let’s hope we see her again next year!

  • Edith Windsor

    Eighty-three-year-old, Philadelphia-born former IBM executive Edith Windsor sued the federal government for denying her a refund of $363,053 in federal estate taxes after her female spouse died -- a deduction typically enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Her case rose all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where in a 5-4 decision, the justices declared that the Defense of Marriage Act -- the law barring the government from recognizing same-sex marriages -- was unconstitutional. Case closed.

  • Debra Sterling

    Engineer Debra Sterling made the news in 2013 with the skyrocketing popularity of her innovative toy company, GoldiBlox. Its mission: “to get girls building” by tapping into their verbal and spatial skills; to give young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things; and to level the playing field for girls to become future engineers -- right along with the boys!

  • Malala Yousafzai

    Her near-assassination on a school bus by Taliban thugs made global headlines in 2012 (her “crime”: publicly advocating for female education in Pakistan). But Malala Yousafzai didn't sit back on her fame or gently fade away. Instead, she used her international acclaim to partner with the phone company, Vodafone, to launch a “mobile-based literacy learning” initiative for more than half a billion girls and women around the world who can’t read or write. And she's only 16.

  • Mayim Bialik

    You may recognize her from her gig as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS's “The Big Bang Theory” (where she plays a neuroscientist). But actress Mayim Bialik doesn’t just portray a genius on TV -- she is one, with a Ph.D., no less. Now she is partnering with DeVry University in its HerWorld program, an annual initiative designed to jazz high school girls about seeking careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). “I am partnering with DeVry to emphasize the value of female role models in providing mentorship,” she says, “and to show them that they can succeed in STEM-related careers.”

  • Kathy Pitt

    Florida elementary school teacher Kathy Pitt devised an innovative classroom exercise to identify children who may be targets for bullying: by passing out index cards and asking her charges to write down the names of fellow students who they’d want to be friends with. The students whose names did not appear on the cards, concluded Pitt, were those she needed to keep an eye on. Although she’s been practicing this technique for more than 15 years, a Mom-blogger brought the story to national attention in January, which led to an <a href="http://www.today.com/moms/mom-shares-teachers-brilliant-secret-fighting-bullying-easing-loneliness-2D79322114" target="_blank">appearance on The Today Show</a> for Pitt, and acclaim for the veteran teacher as a leading force in the modern anti-bullying movement.

  • Diana Nyad And Mikaela Shiffrin

    When 64-year-old Diana Nyad triumphantly made her historic 110-mile swim from Havana, Cuba, to Florida in September (her fifth attempt in 35 years), she instantly became a global role model for guts and determination. Six months later, 18-year-old skier Mikaela Shiffrin scored Olympic gold in the slalom in Sochi, becoming the youngest medalist ever in Olympic alpine skiing, and the first women’s slalom Olympic medalist in 42 years. Two champions in the same year -- 46 years apart in age. You go girls!

  • International Women's Day Travel Advice

  • Candice Walsh, Editor With Matador Network

    <strong>On one piece of advice she'd like to share with other travellers:</strong> "Do what makes you feel comfortable. There are a million travellers preaching the virtues of a certain travel lifestyle, but ignore it. Pack what you want. Go where you want. Stay in hotels, or hostels, who cares. Hop on a tour bus. Just GO!" -- Candice Walsh, <a href="http://www.candicedoestheworld.com/about/">Candice Does The World</a>

  • Mariellen Ward, Travel Writer

    <strong>On what she would change about female travel:</strong> "I think women are bred to be fearful, and unfortunately for good reason. There are bad people out there, and we do have to be careful. But we need to be able to separate reasonable fears -- like dark alleys at night -- from the kind of fears that keep us in a kind of self-imposed prison. Women the world over are not only afraid to travel, they are often afraid to move or speak out or create -- or just be themselves. This has to change." -- Mariellen Ward, <a href="http://breathedreamgo.com/">Breathe, Dream, Go</a>

  • Melissa Medeiros, Travel Blogger

    <strong>One piece of advice she'd like to share with other travellers:</strong> "Trust yourself. We women have incredible intuition. Follow your instincts, listen to your heart and don't let the fear of the unknown or what other people say stop you from travelling. You are strong, independent and confident. Go exploring and you'll discover things about yourself you never knew you had." -- Melissa Medeiros, <a href="http://www.melissatoandfro.com/">Melissa To And Fro</a>

  • Tracy Zhang, Photographer

    <strong>On what she would change about female travel:</strong> "I wish we could actually reduce women's own fears and misconceptions around traveling to foreign places. There's enough debate from people of all genders and ages around whether certain cultures are safe or not for women to visit — alone or otherwise — that I wish we could change females' own misperception of which places are safe to visit for women." --Tracy Zhang, <a href="http://www.justintimetravels.com/">Just-In-Time Travels</a>

  • Sara Graham, Travel Writer

    <strong>One piece of advice she'd like to share with other travellers:</strong> "I have travelled a lot on my own — through Europe, Thailand, South America and Australia — over the last 10 years. It's a challenge that has allowed me to learn so much about myself, meet interesting people and move beyond my comfort zone. The biggest lesson is that I'm OK on my own. Every women should try going it alone at least once in her life. It's incredibly empowering." --Sara Graham, <a href="http://thetravelpresse.com/">The Travel Presse</a>

  • Jodi Ettenberg, Travel And Food Writer

    <strong>On what she would change about female travel:</strong> "I don't think travel needs to change for women, I think we need to address the problem of violence against women worldwide. Crimes against women are not limited to travel abroad — whether a woman is alone or otherwise — but are in our backyards too. I hope that the more we see of the world, the more we can connect the disparate dialogues to address this extremely pressing issue." -- Jodi Ettenberg, <a href="http://www.legalnomads.com/">Legal Nomads</a>

  • Cailin O'Neil, Filmmaker

    <strong>One piece of advice she'd like to share with other travellers:</strong> "The biggest and best form of advice that any traveller will give you is to 'be smart and trust your gut.' Research places before you visit, learn where you can and can't safely visit and what areas of town are good or bad to hang out in. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation get yourself out of it as quickly as possible and once again if it doesn't feel right it probably isn't. Trust your gut. Oh and have fun!" --Cailin O'Neil, <a href="http://www.travelyourself.ca/">Travel Yourself</a>

  • Leigh McAdam, Author

    <strong>On what she would change about female travel:</strong> "I’d like women to be able to go everywhere a man goes without having to take any extraordinary precautions — just because they’re a woman." --Leigh McAdam, <a href="http://hikebiketravel.com/">HikeBikeTravel</a>

  • Ayngelina Brogan, Strategic Marketer

    <strong>On one piece of advice she'd like to share with other travellers:</strong> "There is no need to be afraid. Yes you need to be aware of your surroundings but there is not a world of men out there waiting to assault you. There is potential for something to happen on the road but the same could happen in your hometown." --Ayngelina Brogan, <a href="http://www.baconismagic.ca/">Bacon Is Magic</a>