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Today is International Women’s Day, a day where women across the world gather with one voice to celebrate womanhood. Celebrated on the 8th of March, the theme for this year is #PressForProgress.

Women and Development

Women are called to change the status of fellow women, with several campaigns calling for recognition of the extraordinary role women have played in developing the world and a call to celebrate such courageous acts. It is important to set aside a day to celebrate women because of the battle, over several decades, for the rights of women and gender equality. Women’s Day was first observed in Germany on 8th March 1914 and was dedicated to women’s right to vote (which was eventually won in 1918), as stated in the United Nations website. International Women Day is also celebrated in Nigeria. Yet, in the hearts of women at the grassroots, the theme “Press For Progress” may weigh down in their hearts because they believe progress is an aspiration meant for men. The Holy  Bible, as observed by the principle recorded in the Book of Genesis Chapter 1 verse 28, indicates that women are indeed given the authority to flourish. A woman is, therefore, a man with a womb, creating room for progress through procreation.  She is also obeying the instruction to multiply and be fruitful. It is unheard of in Nigeria that a woman should have an ambition which does not include childbearing. Society shuns it, showing that traditionally, it is believed that a woman’s role is in her act of childbearing. A woman is equipped with the innate power of procreation.  For a nation such as Nigeria to grow, it needs an increase in manpower and this is created by the woman folks. This does not reduce the great childbearing sacrifices women go through but shows how important the role they play is in sustaining the nation. Women are important tools in the developmental process.
“From close observation, the African woman has been contributing socially, economically and politically to the development of her home, the community and the environment in which she lives. Women in Yoruba land are trained for motherly roles such as honesty, loyalty , patriotism and chastity and are imparted to them from birth in form of traditional ethos, ethics and cultural values for the benefit of the society hence the Yoruba adage says„‟Ile la ti nko eso rode„‟ meaning charity begins at home” — (Mrs Kiklemo’s Gender, Affirmative Action, Human Rights and Equity: The Importance of Education of the Female in Nation Building, pg. 79 )

Rising Up

In today’s reality, however, we see our women pressing beyond their primary role of procreation. Through the help of western education, the role of women has shifted from “Ze other room” to the boardroom. Therefore, a press for progress can be actively seen as women move beyond boundaries and borders which were fashioned for them beforehand  Women in Nigeria are realizing that they are no longer vessels with a womb, but are equal with men in the roles they partake in world affairs. From the British Colonial days of Magaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, to the current Abike Dabiri-Arewa, women in Nigeria no longer relegate themselves to the back seat but are in the affairs of policy and decision making and in the interest of nation-building, health, education, engineering and various other sectors in life. In conclusion, in order to achieve this year’s International Women’s Day theme, it is paramount that women bind together and encourage one another in order to achieve a better tomorrow and #PressForProgress.   The feature image is Audre Lorde, prominent writer and feminist, taken from

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This article was first published on 8th March 2018


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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