Every year, millions of people across the world converge on March 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day.

This day which was initially just an annual ritual is beginning to gain currency as the clamor for women’s rights, dignity and care continues to increase.

The celebration is often commemorated by diverse groups in societies and often hinges on yearly themes that guide its commemoration. Like previous years, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day; ‘Invest in women; accelerate progress’ underscores the need for the empowerment of women across different sectors of society.

This is now timelier as a lot of developing countries like Nigeria have been faced with harsh economic situations ranging from financial hardship, increases in the cost of living, and high-interest rates amongst others. This ugly turn in fortune has forced many women in the country who are adjudged to be major drivers of SMEs in the country to either shut down or go on tentative sabbaticals.

More worrisome is the labour force participation rate. In Nigeria, the labour force participation rate in 2023 still shows a 52.2% rate for females when compared to 65.9% for males, indicating the disparity and age-long dominance of women in the corporate sector.

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This labour force participation rate is the proportion of the population ages 15 and older that is economically active. Since 1990, female labour force participation has decreased. Compared with labour force participation in the lower-middle income group, the gap between men and women is lower in Nigeria when compared with other developing countries.

Similarly, the World Bank gender data portal reveals that 2. 3.6% of seats in the national parliament were held by women in 2022 in Nigeria. This figure represents the percentage of parliamentary seats in a single or lower chamber held by women. Concurrently, the proportion of seats held by women in Nigeria has witnessed a continuous decline since 2010 to an all-time low that is lower than the average rate in lower-middle-income countries.

Despite forming the larger percentage of voters in the country, women have been opportune to occupy fewer elective positions in the executive and legislative sectors of the government, as such necessitating the need for improvement.

The call is for women in Nigeria regardless of their constraints, to seize this day of International Women’s Day to reflect on their unique role in nation-building and work concertedly to achieve the change they truly deserve. This is a challenge for every woman. A challenge to consider what’s possible and a challenge to rethink what was perceived as impossible with the goal of making the most of their potential whether in business, politics, sciences, technology, family, or education.

In sum, when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment which can collectively be forged through a more inclusive world.