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  With the rise of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, young Nigerian women are beginning to believe that the impossible is nothing. Every year on March 8th we observe International women’s day. No, it is not the same thing as Mothers’ day. It is a day to celebrate the achievements of women in the fight for gender equality. It is also a day to raise funds for women-focused charities and lobby for gender parity.
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The global observance of this day began as far back as 1911 when it was officially celebrated by over a million people in four European countries. In 1914, German women fought for the right to vote, a fight they did not win till 1918. The effect of that win has rippled into this era with the recent first female Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany being Angela Merkel. But let’s bring our focus back to Nigeria, shall we? Already in Nigeria, we have notable women doing amazing things around the county and worldwide. From Ibukun Awoshika, Folorunso Alakija, Mo Abodu, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Fade Ogunro to Afua Osei and Yasmin Belo-Osagie, Lola Ekugo, Mary Dinah and Wonuola Olatunde-Lamidi, Nigerian women are rising to the challenge. That’s why the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day ‘Choose To Challenge’ is highly appropriate. The focus of the theme this year is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving An Equal Future In A COVID-19 World’. This year women have shined in leadership positions worldwide. Like Kamala Harris becoming America’s first female Vice President, and Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan helping their countries keep the COVID infection to a minimum in 2020. In Nigeria, women hold only 7% of elected offices and receive very little support when they aspire to rise to such positions. This is why we should be marking this day here.
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This year, the discussions will revolve around what women can do to play an active role in economies recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Women are usually relegated to low-paying jobs, are the first to be laid off in the event of any crisis, and have trouble being hired because of gap years from childbearing. For those not discussing, wearing the colours assigned to this day can also help to raise awareness of the issues surrounding women. The main colour for the day is Purple which symbolizes dignity and justice. Other colours associated with that day include Green which symbolizes hope and White which symbolizes purity which is considered a controversial concept these days.  When people see women wearing a particular colour, it will spark a conversation that might lead to a change in thinking patterns about the issues of gender parity women face. In Nigeria, some organizations have planned events to make this day. Such as The Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan-Atlantic University, The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and securities exchanges (SEC). The EDC  event is a workshop titled ‘How to access Grants’ and it takes place on the 25th of March 2021 in their physical location in Ajah Lagos. Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) will also be having a ‘Women with Big Dreams’ movie commissioning event in a physical location on March 9th in Lagos in honour of IWD 2021. While the NSE event is a webinar, it will hold on March 8th at 1 pm West Central African Time. If you can’t attend any of these, you can join the conversation online with the hashtag, #ChooseToChallenge.
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This article was first published on 8th March 2021 and updated on March 9th, 2021 at 12:05 am


Ann Esievoadje is a freelance writer who is passionate about encouraging a reading culture and personal development. She has authored two books, The Quilt (fiction) and Being Mummy and Me (non-fiction). She manages Pulchra Publishing which offers a content creation/editing, transcription, different forms of writing (including Ghostwriting) service and her blog, Life Love and Anything Goes at You can reach her at

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