March 8, was International Women’s Day (IWD) all over the world. But then, what does IWD signify to us? What is its history? What are the lessons?
Even though the celebrations of this year range from respect, appreciation and love towards women for their economic, political and social achievements, in some regions the day lost its political flavor and became simply an occasion for people to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
For us in Nigeria, my prayer is that this day presents an opportunity for us to ruminate over the plight and circumstances of women and the future of the girl child. I pray that this IWD provides the platform to analyse, access and conclude on our strategies, methods and vision towards eradication of poverty, hunger, violence and war.
I pray this day gives us the ability the see the worth, value and importance of educating the girl child and empowering the woman. I pray this day opens up our eyes to the reality we are as a people and nation. And I pray it provides us the humility and ability to accept where we err, and determine to mend those inadequacies in order to craft a better future and country for our children and their children after them.
I pray we remember: Funmi Ransome Kuti, the Lioness of Lisabi who fought for the rights of women and resisted tyranny in an era when women were considered As slaves; Hajara Gambo Sawaba, who fought for justice and fairness and for women’s right to political participation in at a time and place where women were seen as mere possessions; MargareThekpo, who stood tall and represented Nigerian women in political gatherings all over the world in the midst of men; alone.
May we remember Wangari Maathai, the woman who made us understand the importance of preserving our environment even before the implication of not doing so has not begun its devastating impact.
May we remember Saadatu Barmani Coge, the woman who withstood intimidation and criticisms and publicly crooned songs to emancipate and empower women as well as entertain others.
May we also remember Maya Angelou, the woman who blazed the trail in poetry, autobiography, fiction writing and arts and paved the way for African Americans and women participation and recognition.
May we remember Dora Akunyili, the woman who stood firm and fought a war that men were afraid to fight, fake and counterfeit drugs in Nigeria, and won; Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, the gallant doctor who gave her life to save Nigerians from the Ebola epidemic; Bilkisu Yusuf, the courageous gender journalist who paved the way for gender reporting in Northern Nigeria.
And many more too numerous to mention, we celebrate you all; today and every day. May all what you fought and died for not be in vain. May your torch be carried by generations yet unborn.
And as we celebrate International Women’s Day, may we all bear the purple ribbon.
Hawwah A. Gambo,