Happy International Women’s Day 2017! As we celebrate another day to recognise the force that is womanhood, I heard a comment that gave me cause for pause today. A friend said “I do believe in Women’s equality but having a whole day dedicated to them is a bit extreme, I think. So without the day, we no sabi wetin women be before?”
I was about to scoff at him and point out that there is a World Water Day (22 March) and a World Migratory Bird Day (10 May). That there was even a day for buying half-wilted roses and overly expensive restaurant meals in the name of love (14 February),so I couldn’t imagine what he found so offensive about a Women’s Day. Then it hit me: he’s right. Many people might not understand the reason behind an International Women’s Day. It might just seem another pointless way of telling women they’re super duper awesome.
The fact is this: International Women’s Day 2017 and all the ones before and after it seeks to recognise and address the imbalance in the powers between men and women. At a time when there is still much ado about who cooks in the home; when we still struggle with child brides, sex trafficking and Female Genital Mutilation; this day aims to celebrate the successes against marginalisation while reminding us that there is still work to be done.
This day isn’t about your empowered young lady living in Lekki, driving a Hummer Jeep and living large. Yes, the day celebrates her; she wouldn’t be where she is today without the relentless fight for equality. But rather than rest on those laurels, the day is about the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised woman.
Violence against women, marginalisation of women, and the constant efforts by some male quarters to keep women a second class citizen are the struggles that this day illuminates. There are frightening statistics for anyone who cares to educate themselves; statistics that make it unequivocally clear that The Woman is the hidden victim in many of the Earth’s labours.
This day is needed. Here is to strong women; the women who continue to rise and flourish against all odds and against extreme adversity. May we be you, may we birth you, may we know you, may we love and respect you.
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