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HomeExecutive BriefEmbracing All Voices: International Women's Day as a Catalyst for Inclusion

Embracing All Voices: International Women’s Day as a Catalyst for Inclusion

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By Eniola Mayowa

It is yet another March 8, the date set aside to celebrate women! International Women’s Day is a globally recognised occasion that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

It also serves as a call to action for accelerating gender parity and fostering an inclusive world.

This year, the theme “Inspire Inclusion” emphasises the importance of creating environments where every woman feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute fully to society.

As we commemorate 2024 International Women’s Day, everyone needs to reflect on the progress made, the challenges that need to be addressed, and the collective efforts required to advance the cause of gender equality and do away with disparity.

Inclusion is progressive and important in healthy societies; hence, promoting diversity and equal representation should be embraced by all. It begins with recognising and embracing the diversity of women’s experiences, exposure, education, and identities.

It encompasses women of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, and backgrounds.

By promoting diversity and representation, we can amplify the voices of marginalised women and ensure that their perspectives are heard and valued. It entails creating an enabling environment, encouragement, and opportunities for women from all walks of life to participate in decision-making processes, leadership roles, and public discourse.

It is worth noting that despite significant accomplishments and strides over the years, women continue to face numerous barriers that hinder their full participation in society and need to be broken down.

These barriers include gender-based violence, discrimination, denial of legal rights, career limitations, undue profiling, unequal access to education and healthcare, and limited economic opportunities.

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To inspire inclusion, we must actively work to break down these barriers and create pathways for women to thrive. This involves challenging harmful stereotypes, championing the course of women, advocating for policy reforms, and fostering supportive environments that empower women to pursue their aspirations without fear or limitations.

Women and girls should be encouraged and prompt to take leadership roles and participate in the decision-making processes. Evidence abounds of women who have successfully taken on high-ranking responsibilities in the corporate, political, and business world with outstanding records of performance.

In a competitive environment, women have proven to have what it takes to excel, and such excellent performance should not be sacrificed for the sake of gender. Still, it should be allowed to blossom and be maximally used in leadership and decision-making processes.

The importance of education and economic empowerment cannot be overemphasized. Education is a powerful tool for empowering women and girls, enabling them to acquire knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue their goals. Investment in girls’ education is a lifelong learning opportunity that can unlock their potential and pave the way for greater economic independence and social emancipation.

Besides, promoting economic empowerment initiatives such as entrepreneurship training, access to financial resources, and equal pay for equal work can help women overcome systemic inequalities and achieve financial security.

Fostering true inclusion demands supporting intersectional approaches that recognise the intersecting nature of discrimination and oppression. Intersectionality acknowledges that women experience discrimination differently based on multiple factors, such as race, class, sexuality, and disability.

Consequently, any efforts to promote gender equality must take into account these intersecting identities and address the unique challenges faced by women at the margins of society. With the adoption of intersectional approaches, we can ensure that our initiatives are inclusive and equitable for all women.

It is pertinent to build a more inclusive world that requires the active participation of individuals, communities, groups, governments, institutions, and everyone who desires a functional and progressive world. Men and boys have a crucial role to play as allies in the fight for gender equality, using their privilege to challenge sexism and amplify women’s voices.

Likewise, fostering solidarity among women across diverse backgrounds strengthens our collective efforts and creates a sense of shared purpose. By standing together in solidarity, we can inspire meaningful change and create a more inclusive society for future generations.

International Women’s Day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress we’ve made and the work that lies ahead in achieving gender equality and inclusion.

By inspiring inclusion, we can create a world where every woman can fulfil her potential, free from discrimination and barriers. As we celebrate this day, let us reaffirm our commitment to championing diversity, breaking down barriers, and empowering women and girls everywhere. Together, we can build a more inclusive world where every woman’s voice is heard and valued.

Again, as the world celebrates 2024 International Women’s Day, let’s remember that inspired women have a sense of belonging, support, accomplishment, and empowerment. Together, let’s work towards a more inclusive world for women. Remember, everyone can play a part in inspiring inclusion—whether at home, at work, or in the community.

  • Mayowa, a reputation management expert, is a fellow of NIPR and COO of Stepcraft Nigeria Ltd.

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