In this tradition of days and celebrating icons and events, today, we celebrate our mothers, sisters and vessels into being, women on what is now known as International Women’s Day.
Every year on March 8, the world gathers to celebrate the global movement for women’s rights that has spurred important conversations like women’s suffrage, gender roles, the pay gap and feminism.
Today, women in most parts of the world enjoy more rights than they did, say 100 years ago, and that alone is worth celebrating.
But considering how their never-ending roles as partners, mothers, listeners and leaders in our relationships, families and the society, we should really celebrate our women every single day.
Our relationship with women begins even before we attain consciousness. The woman is the vessel for life and this is not a duty that she discharges with levity.
From the first days of her pregnancy, a woman begins to notice changes in her body and psyche that she has to accommodate and endure.
For 9 months, she carries life inside of her. It’s a life form that is absolutely dependent on her and will feel the effect of her every action during this period.
A duty to nurture and care
This biological tie perhaps explains why women have a natural tendency to nurture.
In relationships, while men are often opaque attempts at being superheroes, the woman takes charge of caring for and in ways, protecting their partner and their shared status as both grow.
Nothing defines nurture quite like a mother.
A mother’s capacity to nurture her child is often defined with photos of young children sucking at breasts while the mother looks lovingly.
In most cases, however, sacrifice is at the core of everything that a mother does to care for the child. In our society, it is an unspoken rule that when a child is made outside the plans or desires of both parties, he/she becomes the woman’s responsibility.
It is not uncommon to hear stories of mothers defying the odds to raise their children in the harshest conditions.
Even in marriages, women carry the responsibility of raising the child; something that men assume is fulfilled with some quality time and the right amount of money.
This nurturing tendency often sets women in leadership positions apart from men.
While it is important to be practical and objective in professional situations, women leaders tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than their male counterparts.
Despite this, in Nigeria, a woman is 19 times less likely to rise to a position in government than a man.
Issues like this unfair lack of representation for women in business and leadership, the wage gap and unfair gender roles are gravely important in today’s world.
There's a real gender gap we need to fix
Despite being equal to men for all intents and purposes, women have become the oppressed gender.
It is why we must celebrate them every day because as each day of her life passes, a woman learns to be berated, subdued and told she is not good enough, and even when she is, it is only for fulfilling a few duties.
Instances of gender-based oppression abound in Nigeria and across the world.
Qatar, one of the most progressive countries in the middle east, has never elected a woman to its parliament.
Looking at 144 countries, the World Economic Forum concludes that there is an average gender wage gap of 32%, meaning women are likely to earn 32% less than men in the same roles.
It’s worse in Saudi Arabia. Until 2015, women could not vote and enrol in municipal elections starting.
In June 2018, they will be permitted to drive for the first time.
A lot of these changes are only possible because women and men around the world have seen the need to put both genders on an equal footing.
Still, we must not be deceived by these small wins or the chance at celebrations like #IWD2018 to believe the job is done.
Gender equality is still a long way off, admittedly it will take the work of governments and institutions at the highest level.
While these conversations continue, women the world over are facing immense odds to go to school, inherit property and enjoy the rights that we claim all humans enjoy in 2018.
Today, we honour their strength and the progress that has been made with beautiful pieces of art, with speeches and a demand for more.
On a personal level, your form of celebration may be as simple as a text message or something as definitive as paying someone’s tuition and giving a young woman a chance at a future.
Regardless of the magnitude, an opportunity always show itself to appreciate the woman and her work and we would do well to take them when they come; it should never begin or end on March 8.