Do you know that women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people? Are you aware that women typically work longer hours than men but get lesser pay? And it is estimated that 60% of the chronically hungry people are women and girls? Do you also know that women account for less than 20% of the world’s land owners? Looking at all these saddening data, one might wonder what we have to celebrate today being the International Women’s Day (IWD).
The IWD is celebrated annually every 8th of March. This day was adopted by the United Nations in 1977 to celebrate the progress made by women in all walks of life. Regardless of the prejudices and status quo that exist against women all around the world, women are still aiming for the skies. We never tire, rather we become stronger, fiercer, braver, smarter, and faster. Our society and institutions are structured in ways that do not favour women, that is why a woman is forced to quit her job because she is pregnant, or no employer would want to hire her because she has a child. There are so much challenges a woman faces just to survive, while our male counterparts get by easily. A woman has to go to work from 8am to 5pm in the corporate world just like a man, and it would still be expected of her to prepare dinner before her husband gets home, help out her kids with their homework, bathe them, put them to sleep and still be up before 5am the next morning to make breakfast and prepare the kids for school. Yet, her boss in the office needs her papers first thing in the morning on his desk. Can you even imagine what it is like for her? Dolly Parton the philosopher said “working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living. Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving”.
Women are constantly drained physically, emotionally, psychologically, and in ways you cannot even think of just because society believes that it is a man’s world.
Women are like coconuts, strong and resilient on the outside, soft and gentle on the inside. Without women, our society will be dull, devoid of colour. Women bring brightness, we carry sunshine on our faces and give out warmth in our smiles. To the men in the world, the time has come when you have to strip yourselves of gender biases and see women as humans and partners in the quest for a better world. Much love to the men out there who identify with women and the pains that we go through, who do everything they can to support and encourage us, who give us the opportunity to chase our dreams, who believe in us, regardless of societal prejudices.
This year’s IWD celebration is a call to action for driving gender balance around the world. With balance, we would have better. We would have access to a large talent pool that would cater for the problems we now experience in our world. Let us put innovation by women and girls, for women and girls at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality. At the Centre for Social, Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics (CSAAE), there exists no gender bias. Women are given equal opportunities as their male counterparts. This is because we are interested in what each individual has to offer, regardless of their gender. We recognise the uniqueness of each individual and help each person harness their potentials. At CSAAE, leadership positions are not off limits to women as the pioneer and current president of the Network of Effective African Leaders (NEAL) is a woman, Ms Michelle Nwagha. CSAAE believes in the power of social innovations by both women and men, in achieving a gender equal world.
To all the amazing women in the world, remember that today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s impossibilities. It always seems impossible until it is done. Never rest on your oars, keep striving to be the best version of yourself. Think equal, build smart and innovate for change. Search within and bring to reality that brainchild of yours needed to end gender inequality in the world by 2030 (SDG 5). Don’t forget to teach your girls to be somebodies and not somebody’s. They do not need to depend on men to be relevant. They can be just whatever they dream of.
Be- You-tiful always.
Ekwonu Francisca Chinelo, EAL
University of Jos.