International Women’s Day 2021: Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Nigeria
BY SANDRA EGUAGIE
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8, it is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female focused charities.
The IWD 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. So let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.
It’s also recently been a very tough time, with data from UN Women revealing the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 25 years of increasing gender equality. Women are doing significantly more domestic chores and family care because of the pandemic, which in turn, can impact upon job and education opportunities.
Today, ANEEJ chooses to “Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Nigeria; A case study of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala”
This year saw the confirmation of Dr. Ngozi, Okonjo Iweala as the first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Similarly, the inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first female, first black and first Asian-American US vice president.
Looking at our case study, prior to the confirmation as the Director General of WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the number two position of managing director, operations (2007–2011). She also served two terms as Finance minister of Nigeria (2003–2006, 2011–2015) under President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively. She was the first woman to serve as the country’s finance minister, the first woman to serve in that office twice, and the only finance minister to have served under two different presidents.
Similarly, there are other women in Nigeria that have made great impact in their career and through their achievements have inspired other women and girls in their life pursuit among whom are Prof Dora Akunyili who fought against fake drugs so as to save the lives of Nigerians when she was the Director General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Grace Alele Williams being the first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria-University of Benin, Chimammanda Adichie has helped to inspire younger generations to be interested in literary Arts. Sandra Aguebor- Ekperuoh as the first female mechanic and has helped fix the lives of about 700 women, Captain Chinyere Kalu set the pace by being the first female commercial pilot in Nigeria, the list is endless.
Though, Gender parity will not be attained for almost a century,” according to the IWD campaign, referring to the World Economic Forum, it says “none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children”.
In the past few years though, we have seen progress and the women’s movement reach an unprecedented scale.
Therefore, the International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women and men around the world to truly make a positive difference and accelerate gender parity. So, identifying, celebrating and increasing visibility of women’s achievements can help forge equality.
Today, ANEEJ joins the rest of world to mark this year’s event with our hands high to show commitment to advocate for women and girls to attain their full potentials which include access to education, health care, safe from violence, increase participation in economic activities and contributing to economic growth, having decision over their resources, support to women and girls who have lost their source of livelihood due to impact of the Pandemic and above all better life for both men and women. This is how we choose to challenge and help forge an inclusive world.
Sandra Eguagie is M and E/Gender Officer of ANEEJ