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INVESTING IN WOMEN: ACCELERATING PROGRESS FOR A BETTER TOMORROW

International Women's Day, observed annually on March 8th, is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is also a day to raise awareness about the constant struggles for gender equality and to inspire inclusive actions that pave the way for a more equitable future. In this article, we delve into the significance of International Women's Day and explore how fostering inclusion can create a Just world where every woman is recognised, valued, and empowered. In the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive world, there is a compelling call to invest in women. This proactive approach recognises the immense potential and contributions of women across various sectors and aims to accelerate progress toward gender equality and empowerment. We encourage the transformative impact of investing in women and how such investments can propel societies forward.


Historically, International Women's Day has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century when women across the world began to rally for their rights. The day symbolises the collective efforts to challenge stereotypes, break barriers, and champion women's rights globally. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to achieve full gender equality. The theme for this year's International Women's Day – "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress" – which calls for concerted efforts to ensure that every woman, regardless of her background, enjoys equal opportunities and rights.


A crucial aspect of fostering inclusion is creating workplaces that celebrate diversity and treat every individual with respect and fairness. Companies that embrace gender diversity benefit from a variety of perspectives, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and overall success. International Women's Day serves as a reminder for businesses to reevaluate their policies and practices, promoting an inclusive environment where women can thrive in leadership roles and contribute meaningfully to the workforce. Investing in women also involves creating supportive environments that allow for a healthy work-life balance. Policies such as flexible working hours, parental leave, and childcare support contribute to a workplace culture that values and supports the diverse needs of both men and women. This, in turn, enables women to pursue careers without sacrificing family life, contributing to increased productivity and employee satisfaction.



Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge. Investing in women is a human rights imperative and cornerstone for building inclusive societies. Progress for women benefits us all. Also, numerous aspects needed to be addressed like unlocking the economic potential of women, and investing in women, by giving equal access to education, employment opportunities, and entrepreneurship, they become key drivers of economic growth. Studies consistently show that businesses and economies thrive when women are actively involved. By investing in women-led businesses and supporting female entrepreneurs, we not only contribute to economic development but also foster innovation and resilience.


Education is a powerful tool for empowering women and promoting inclusion. Across the globe, there are still barriers preventing girls and women from accessing quality education. On International Women's Day, it is imperative to advocate for educational opportunities that are free from discrimination, ensuring that every woman has the chance to pursue her dreams and contribute to society. Empowered women are not only agents of change in their own lives but also in their communities, fostering a ripple effect of positive transformation. Investing in women begins with ensuring equal access to education. Educated women are more likely to make informed choices about their lives, health, and careers. Moreover, education equips women with the skills and knowledge needed to participate fully in the workforce and contribute to societal progress. Investments in girls' education have a multiplier effect, positively impacting families, communities, and entire nations.


According to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index 2023, "the overall rate of change has slowed down significantly" even though the worldwide parity score has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The index measures progress towards narrowing gender gaps over time by benchmarking 146 nations across four critical dimensions: Political Empowerment, Health and Survival, Educational Attainment, and Economic Participation and Opportunity.

In Nigeria, women are severally underrepresented across different sectors, for example; the 2023 general elections recorded that only 10% women were candidates during the last elections and barely 5% got elected into offices. Whilst Nigeria has made a number of commitments towards achieving gender equality in politics, these commitments have been systemically undermined by poor implementation of gender friendly policies, primarily attributed to a lack of political will. For example, Nigeria is a signatory to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPA, 1995) which committed Nigeria to the equal participation of women in power and decision making. 18 years on since 2006, the federal government and other stakeholders is yet to meet up to its own commitment.


Breaking Cultural Barriers means cultural norms and stereotypes often limit women's potential and restrict their choices. This International Women's Day encourages societies to challenge these norms and foster a culture of inclusivity. By breaking down cultural barriers, we can create a world where women are free to pursue their aspirations without fear of judgment or discrimination. Celebrating the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds can inspire others to challenge stereotypes and redefine societal expectations. We need to invest in women's health. a fundamental step towards overall societal well-being. Comprehensive healthcare, including reproductive health services, not only empowers women to make choices about their bodies and families but also contributes to healthier communities. By prioritising women's health, we invest in the foundation of strong and resilient societies.


At Kebetkache, we are building an eco-feminist movement at the grassroot and inspiring an inclusive community. Women and communities are being trained and empowered to advocate and raise awareness of issues related to women's rights, the environment, and governance. We also support women's unity, community ownership of projects, and creating a common agenda for women that transcends linguistic and ethnic barriers.


Additionally, promoting leadership opportunities requires actively promoting leadership across various sectors.  By investing in leadership development programs for women, we ensure that their voices are heard and their talents are utilised to their full potential. Inspiring inclusion extends beyond the workplace and educational institutions. Communities play a crucial role in fostering an environment where every woman is valued and respected. On International Women's Day, communities can come together to organise events that celebrate women's achievements, highlight their contributions, and address the challenges they face. This collective effort creates a sense of solidarity and encourages everyone to actively contribute to building a more inclusive society.


Conclusion:

International Women's Day serves as a poignant reminder of the progress made in the journey towards gender equality and the work that still lies ahead. By Inspiring Inclusion in workplaces, education, culture, and communities, we can create a world where women are celebrated for their diverse talents and contributions. As we continue to invest in women, we are not only unlocking their potential, but contributing to the overall advancement and prosperity of our global community.


Happy International Women’s Day! #INSPIREINCLUSION

 

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