Here’s why you should never stop caring about International Women’s Day

“She Talks” is a thought-provoking and empowering opinion and editorial campaign that allows women to express their unique perspectives on current affairs, social issues, and political matters. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we bring you a special edition of ‘She Talks.’ This aims to teach you about its history, importance, and the reasons why March 8 should never be forgotten.

For a lot of us, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a day we can never forget, all thanks to corporate and social media propaganda.

Perhaps it could be the million and one “empowering” texts and emails from companies sent to customers at the beginning of the day. Or the countless men in relationships showering their partners with accolades and grandiose performances of love and gifts “for the gram.” Maybe it is even an article like this one, where the writer slaps together one or two paragraphs of statistics with a couple of quotes and hits publish in the hopes of obtaining a decent amount of page views.

Overall, the increasingly superficial and commercialised observance of International Women’s Day is diminishing its significance as a platform to tackle deep-rooted gender issues across multiple fields, eroding engagement from its most vital supporters—women.

If you feel the same way as these women, you’re in good company. I’ve walked that path and understand the exhaustion of navigating through performative gestures. Yet, amidst this, remembering the radical and forward-thinking roots of International Women’s Day is crucial, far beyond the superficial “empowering quotes” on corporate giveaways.

The Uprising of the 20,000

Early reports state the earliest occurrence of a ‘women’s day event’ was on February 25, 1909, by the Socialist Party of America.

However, our story begins with a pivotal moment that unfolded several months later, marking both a tragic and heroic chapter in history. On November 23, 1909, 20,000 Jewish women and teens courageously initiated an 11-week strike against New York’s shirtwaist industry. This monumental act of defiance and resilience came to be celebrated as “The Uprising of the 20,000.”

Women’s day beginnings
Image Credit: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Although prompted by different incidents, workers shared a common set of underlying grievances about wages, hours, workplace safety, and workplace indignities explicitly suffered by women (such as unwanted sexual advances, threats, and invasions of privacy). From the outset, the women faced three-way opposition from the manufacturers, the police, and the courts. Some of the manufacturers even hired thugs and prostitutes to abuse strikers, often with aid from police officers, who then arrested strikers on trumped-up charges of assault.

Despite facing relentless harassment, these women’s unwavering strength and determination were not without reward. After enduring a gruelling two-month strike through the harshest of winters, their valiant efforts led to the recognition of most local factories under Local 25 of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. This space had, until then, been primarily governed by men. This victory marked a significant triumph over adversity and a pivotal shift towards inclusivity and women’s empowerment within the labour movement.

Women’s day

This courageous deed ignited a worldwide cascade of women’s empowerment movements and festivities. It led to the proclamation of ‘International Women’s Day’ as an annual observance during the International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910. This spark of defiance fueled the Russian women workers’ uprising in 1917, culminating in the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1977.

More than a century later, what has changed?

Well, one could say that, compared to 1977, there has been some improvement in women’s lives concerning gender inclusion and parity.

According to the World Bank’s “Women, Business, and the Law” 2020 report, women now have three-quarters of the legal rights of men compared to the 1970s, when it was less than half.  Sub-Saharan Africa has also witnessed the most significant improvement so far, with an 81% change in average score between 1970 and 2020 from 38.5 to 69.9.

The 2023 Gender Index Report by the World Economic Forum has also recorded progress towards gender parity at an overall 4.1 percentage-point gain since its first edition in 2006.

Yet, the disparities are more glaring than the milestones. The World Bank’s recent “Women, Business, and the Law” report unveils a global gender gap far wider than previously recognised, highlighting that women face significantly fewer opportunities in the workforce compared to men.

To understand this issue, we’ll explore it through four critical lenses: entrepreneurship, the workplace, compensation, and the intersection of safety and parenthood. We’ll examine both the global scene and the unique challenges faced in Nigeria.

The Global Perspective

36: The global average score for women’s safety

This report—women’s safety—pegs the global average score at just 36. This means that women have a third of the legal protection they need from domestic violence, sexual harassment, child marriage, and femicide. Of the 190 economies studied in the report, 151 have laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, but only 39 have laws banning it in public spaces such as mass transit. How can we expect women to prosper at work when it is dangerous for them just to travel to work?

2 ½: The number of extra hours women spend on unpaid care work compared to men

Many economies fall short of enacting childcare-friendly laws. On average, women dedicate over two and a half extra hours daily to unpaid care work, primarily childcare, compared to men.

Shockingly, fewer than half of all economies offer financial aid or tax incentives to parents of young children. Moreover, in less than a third of these places, childcare services are regulated by quality standards. Consequently, only half of women worldwide are active in the workforce, starkly contrasting to nearly three-quarters of men.

44%: The number of legal provisions that support women entrepreneurs

Worldwide, a mere 44% of the necessary legal frameworks to bolster women’s entrepreneurship exist, and women occupy only one out of every five seats on corporate boards.

Shockingly, fewer than 20% of economies implement gender-sensitive criteria in their public procurement processes. This oversight effectively excludes women from participating in an almost US$10 trillion yearly economic opportunity.

68/190: The number of economies with flexible work arrangement options

Provisions for flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours and remote work, recognise the positive impacts of work-life balance and family-friendly policies on a woman’s employment. The report found that in 68 economies, workers can request flexible work arrangements through flexible hours or remote work. Only 37 economies provide for the possibility of requesting both types of flexible work arrangements.

Evidence shows that flexible work arrangements facilitate greater female participation and retention in the labour force, concurrently contributing to a more equitable distribution of unpaid work between women and men.

92: The economies that do not enforce equal remuneration of work

Globally, 92 economies lack legal protections ensuring equal pay for work of equal value. In 77 economies, women face legal barriers limiting their ability to work in specific roles or industries based on outdated notions of suitability. Specifically, 20 economies enforce bans on women working night shifts; 45 consider specific jobs too hazardous for women; and 59 economies explicitly restrict women’s participation in particular industrial sectors. This not only undermines gender equality but also restricts economic diversity and innovation by sidelining half the world’s potential workforce.

Addressing such barriers to a woman’s work is critical because sectoral segregation is closely linked to the gender pay gap, and lower salaries for women than for men can obstruct a woman’s ability to advance in her career.

The Nigerian Perspective

Women’s day
Image Credit: Dataphyte

In the 2023 report, Nigeria secured a total score of 66.3, marking its achievements and challenges in gender equality. The country showcased perfect equality in married women’s rights with a score of 100 but lagged significantly in the domain of parenthood, reflecting a disparity in gender roles within families. Regarding Pay, the score halts at 50, highlighting the persistent and broad gap in ensuring equal pay for equal value between genders, underscoring the urgent need for focused efforts to bridge this divide.

How to make #InspireInclusion more than just a hashtag

Imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together, we can forge women’s equality. Collectively, we can all #InspireInclusion.

— As found on

As this year’s theme is #InspireInclusion, let us not only consider the day as part of our campaigns or content calendars for the month but also consider how we can inspire inclusion amongst our various communities and circles of influence.

According to gender experts, here are some practical solutions for how to go about this:

Education and Awareness

Implementing educational programs to raise awareness about gender equality and the importance of inclusion in schools, community centres, and religious institutions.

Policy Reforms

Advocating for and implementing policies that promote gender equality and protect the rights of women and other marginalised genders in areas such as education, employment, and healthcare.

Empowerment Programs

Providing training and resources to empower women and marginalised genders to pursue education, entrepreneurship, and leadership opportunities.

Community Engagement

Engaging with community leaders, elders, and traditional rulers to promote gender equality and challenge harmful cultural norms and practices.

Access to Resources

Ensuring equal access to land, credit, and technology for women and other marginalised genders to participate fully in economic activities.

Legal Support

Establishing legal support services and mechanisms to address gender-based violence and discrimination, including providing access to justice for survivors.

Media and Communication

Using media platforms and communication channels to challenge stereotypes and promote positive portrayals of women and other marginalised genders.

Partnerships and Collaboration

Collaborating with local organisations, government agencies, and international partners to implement gender-inclusive programs and initiatives.

Healthcare Services

Ensuring access to quality healthcare services, including reproductive health services and maternal care, for women and other marginalised genders.

Support Networks

Establishing support networks and community-based organisations to provide advocacy, counselling, and support services for women and other marginalised genders.

As much as it is commendable for us to have these solutions, it doesn’t make as much impact if we don’t “walk the talk.” In our celebration of International Women’s Day, let us make it a point of duty to not just talk about women’s issues and celebrate their wins but also to enforce gender legislation. The time for talking is long gone, and the time for action is NOW.



  • ChiAmaka Dike

    Chiamaka is the Features Editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. She is a woman who is passionate about God, women, and top-notch storytelling in all formats. Send all feature pitches her way -

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