We live in a time when men constitute a sizable proportion of the global population, and if this is true globally, it is also true nationally. Nigeria alone has over 107 million men which is even more than the female population. It’s another year to celebrate International Women’s Day, but the question on most Nigerian men’s minds is what they have to do with it. To put it simply, it is a time for EVERYONE to reflect on how far society has progressed in terms of women’s rights and equity.
Let’s break it down further.
Everyone, regardless of gender, should care to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. Nigeria has an extended history of gender inequality and discrimination against women. A range of issues, including limited access to education and healthcare, lower wages and employment opportunities, and gender-based violence are faced by women on a daily basis. However, there has been some concerted efforts to combat these issues, mostly from the female gender themselves. We have seen the likes of Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, Ibukun Awosika and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala address and advocate for more women inclusion in Nigeria. We have also consistently seen how women have been breaking the glass ceiling in different spheres of life, regardless of these stumbling blocks and challenges. If we’re being honest, this is worth celebrating.
By acknowledging Women’s Day and supporting efforts to address these issues, Nigerian men can contribute to creating a more just and equal society for everyone.
Also, gender equality is not just a women’s issue; it is a human issue. Achieving gender equality benefits not just women but also men and society as a whole. Research shows that when women have access to education, employment, and equal rights, societies are more prosperous and stable.
So, how do you show support? Here are some ways men (and other genders) can show their support today and after:
- Listen to women: Take the time to listen to women and their experiences. Ask questions and seek to understand their perspective.
- Educate yourself: Learn about the issues facing women today, such as the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, and discrimination. Read books, articles, and watch documentaries about women’s experiences.
- Speak up: If you witness sexist behavior or comments, speak up and challenge it. Use your privilege and voice to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality.
- Support women-led initiatives: Donate to organizations that support women’s rights or attend events organized by women.
- Amplify women’s voices: Share the work of women on social media, amplify their voices in meetings and conversations, and advocate for women to be included in decision-making processes.
- Support women in the workplace: Promote women’s leadership and career development opportunities. Ensure that women are paid fairly and have equal opportunities for promotion.
- Be an ally: Be an active ally to the women in your life, support them and stand up for them when they face discrimination or harassment.
Remember, supporting women is an ongoing effort and not just limited to International Women’s Day. It requires a commitment to gender equality and taking action throughout the year.