Happy International Women’s Day! A Brief History On Why We Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. 

The theme for International Women’s  Day 2017 was “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”, and for 2018 was chosen as – ‘Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives’

According to wikipedia, the first observance of a Women’s Day was held on February 28, 1909 in New York, March 8 was suggested by the 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference to become an “International Woman’s Day.” After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8 became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

Several times especially in this part pf the world when women’s rights are discussed, people-particularly men- go on to say we have the same rights and that is false. In Nigeria, there are many parts of the country where Female Genital Mutilation is still being practised, as a Nigerian woman you cannot pass on the Nigerian citizenship to your husband if you marry a foreigner but Nigerian men can pass on citizenship by marriage, child marriages are still a norm in several African countries, until last year women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, women are being judged every day for their gender, and it is not right. Let’s not even get started on traditional gender roles in the home.

Sadly when people do not feign ignorance about these issues, they hide under the umbrella of “We are Africans, it is our culture” or “That is how our society is”. I often wonder if the society is made up of mini gods, who tell us what to do. Aren’t we the ones that decide what we want? We make up the society. There is no such thing as “It is our culture/That is how our society is”. We make up the society and we decide what we want.

Culture evolves, at a time killing of twins was what was termed normal in our culture, but Mary Slessor championed the fight against that and it was abolished. Culture evolves, we got past the killing of twins, I am sure we can also make changes that favour the rights of women and abolish traditional gender roles.

Happy International Women’s day

Image Credit: Cyrenes

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