International Women’s Day has a rich history that spans more than a century. The observance of this day has its roots in the early socialist movement of the 20th Century, and it has since evolved into a global celebration of women’s achievements, advocacy for equality, and a call for action to address the challenges women and girls face around the world. The origin can be traced back to the early 1900s, a time when women were increasingly advocating for their rights, including the right to vote, better working conditions, and an end to discrimination against women in all facets of life.

The first known National Women’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909, following a declaration made by the Socialist Party of America. However, the real moment for International Women’s Day came in 1975 when the United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day, marking it as a global observance to honour the social economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Since then, the event has been celebrated annually on March 8, with each year featuring a specific theme related to women’s rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.

The theme for the 2024 International Day celebration is ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’. This theme highlights the importance of gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and their rights to healthier lives. Achieving gender equality and women’s well-being in all aspects of life is crucial to creating prosperous economies and a healthy planet. The theme also underscores the importance of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women across different social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. It serves as a reminder of the need to continually strive for gender equality and to promote social change.

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Nigeria is a significant occasion that highlights the achievements, contributions, and struggles of women in the country. This day serves as a reminder of the progress made towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, while also recognizing the work that still needs to be done to uplift women across all spheres of society.

Nigeria has a rich history of influential women, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Magaret Ekpo, Ladi Kwali, Alele Williams, Ngozi Okonjo Iwuala, Dora Akunyeli, Amina Mohammed, Folunso Alakija, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and many more. These notable women have made substantial contributions to various fields, including politics, business, education, the arts, and social activism. Their efforts have played a crucial role in shaping the country’s development and promoting a more inclusive and equitable society. Therefore, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to honor and celebrate these trailblazing women and their accomplishments.

The celebration of International Women’s Day typically involves a range of activities and events that are geared toward raising awareness about gender equality, advocating for women’s rights, and promoting the advancement of women in all aspects of life. These activities may include seminars, workshops, panel discussions, art exhibitions, cultural performances, and community outreach programmes. There may also be public demonstrations and marches to highlight the ongoing struggles for gender equality and women’s rights.

One of the key objectives of celebrating International Women’s Day in Nigeria is to foster dialogue and reflection on the challenges that women continue to face, such as sexual harassment and gender-based violence, economic marginalization, and limited access to education and healthcare. By bringing these issues to the forefront, the hope is to inspire positive change and mobilize support for initiatives that address these pressing concerns.

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In addition to recognizing the achievements of women, International Women’s Day in Nigeria also serves as a platform for amplifying and escalating the voices of women and advocating for their inclusion in decision-making processes at all levels of society. By empowering women to take on leadership roles and participate in shaping policies and programs, the aim is to create a more equitable and just society.

Furthermore, celebrating International Women’s Day in Nigeria provides an opportunity to showcase Nigerian women’s talents, creativity, and resilience. This can involve highlighting their entrepreneurial endeavors, artistic expressions, and cultural traditions, as well as acknowledging the vital roles they play within their families and communities.

It is also important to recognize that International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that gender equality is not just a women’s issue but a societal one. Men and boys play a crucial role in supporting and championing women’s rights and advocating for a more inclusive and diverse society. Therefore, the celebration of International Women’s Day in Nigeria also involves engaging men and boys in conversations about gender equality and encouraging them to become allies in the fight for women’s rights.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on leveraging technology and social media to amplify the message of gender equality and women’s empowerment during International Women’s Day. Digital campaigns, hashtags, and online events have been utilized to reach a wider audience and spark conversations about the importance of advancing women’s rights and gender equality in Nigeria and beyond.

In conclusion, celebrating International Women’s Day in Nigeria is an opportunity to honor the resilience, achievements, and potential of Nigerian women, while also renewing the commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is a time for reflection, advocacy, and action to create a more inclusive, equitable, and just society for all.

Ejiofor is a Deputy Registrar with Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.