From cradle to old age, the women folk are critical to the perpetuity of the human race. The need to celebrate the achievements of women in all spheres, as already endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, is therefore a welcome development.
March 8 every year has been set aside as the International Women’s Day. It started since 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland and it is aimed at celebrating the achievements of women politically, socially, economically, culturally and religiously. International Women’s Day celebration is also a collective call for the celebration of gender equality by all groups and institutions as championed by feminists and other human rights activities. It focuses on advocacy, reflection, support and action to give women and the girl child an equal opportunity to actualize their potentials in a male dominated society like ours.
The theme for the 2018 International Women’s Day celebration is “Press for Progress”. A critical consideration of this theme against the previous year’s theme, which was “equality matters”, points to the need to be persistent in ensuring that the future of the girl-child, who will grow to become a woman, is safe, equal and bright, compared to the male counterpart. The society is enjoined to entrench gender parity in all spheres of life for both the girl and the male child to develop in the same environment without being reminded that she is just a girl.
A cursory glance into memory lane reveals that women, all over the world at various times, have been the pillar of socio-economic and political changes with unimaginable success stories in solving some nagging societal problems. The case of Aba women’s riot of November, 1929 in protest against the warrant chiefs and the obnoxious policies of the British administration in the southeastern Nigeria; the 1908 women march at New York city, USA in demand of shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, and the 1917 Russian women strike for bread and peace in response to the death of over two million Russian soldiers in the first world war are just few examples of women who changed the course of history.
It is true that in the past, the position of women was that of the under dogs who should be seen but not heard. Their contribution to the community issues could only be gained through their husbands, who were lords over them. Happily, the story has changed today. The relationship between the men and women has become more participatory and inclusive, though, much is still expected in giving both the men and women an equal opportunity in all areas of life.
In Nigeria in particular, women have proved their mettle with their greater involvement and participation in politics. The thirty-five percent affirmative action for women in politics was well domesticated in Nigeria. There are also quite a number of female professionals in various spheres who have done well without neglecting the home front. Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Chimamanda Adichie, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Adenike Oshinowo-Soleye were some Nigerian women who have distinguished themselves in their chosen areas of which posterity cannot forget.
As the world celebrates women today through rallies, Seminars, community gatherings, Radio and Television talk shows, everyone everywhere is enjoined to support the move to press for progress to achieve more gender parity for women in our society.