GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even though International Women’s Day isn’t technically until Sunday, West Michigan decided to celebrate early Wednesday.

The 8th annual event took place at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Speakers shared words of support and say it’s a big year for women to make their voices heard.

Hundreds of people showed out to hear speakers talk about the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day-long event originally started for just Amway employees, but has since been opened to the public with sold-out crowds for the past several years.

The goal is to help women build better relationships, embrace diversity and support each other.

“Be yourself. It’s really what’s going to set you apart. It’s going to lead to a fulfilling life and to your success,” said Angel Duff, the director and managing counsel of legal HR of diversity and inclusion at Amway.

“In the world that we live in today, men need to first of all recognize our privilege as men,” said keynote speaker Buhle Dlamini. “We’ve got to do things that will change the status quo, so we’ve got to be allies, we’ve got to be willing to step up and be the ones to call out to women to take the positions that they need to take, and also step aside to allow women to be leaders into the future that’s possible for us.”

This year’s West Michigan theme was “The Power of Being Real” and organizers are hoping that message continues through 2020.