International Women’s Day Message : #Choose To Challenge

We give God all the glory for another opportunity to commemorate a very special day around the world, March 8th, International Women’s Day. Every year, governments and citizens of the world gather to mark this day which has been set aside to celebrate, acknowledge and identify with women of the world. It is a time for reflection on how far we have come in raising the status of women, fighting for an end to all forms of gender discrimination and ensuring that women play full and equal roles at all levels of society. In spite of the many efforts at ensuring that women are empowered and that they have equality of opportunity, Nigerian women still live-in dire poverty, they suffer many forms of discrimination, they are mostly excluded from key decision-making positions, they lack access to water, shelter and adequate nutrition and they struggle to access qualitative healthcare services. There is however good news. In Ekiti Sate, the administration of HE Dr Kayode Fayemi takes the issue of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment very seriously. Ekit state currently has the most comprehensive legal and policy frameworks in Nigeria which aim to promote the rights and dignity of women. This is an administration that understands that there can be no progress without the full and equal participation of women in development. Over the past two years, this administration has:

  • Adopted Gender Mainstreaming as a key government policy. This includes capacity building, sensitization, budgeting and programming to promote gender issues
  • Ensured the presence of women in leadership at all levels of government
  • Provided many economic empowerment opportunities for women, especially in grassroots communities
  • Established a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence
  • Prioritised the importance of education, particularly keeping girls in school
  • Provided qualitative and accessible healthcare services for women

It is however very important to continue to build on these gains and scale up interventions so that the majority of women in the State are include. The theme for IWD 2021 is Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world. As we mark this special day, I would like to encourage all of us to do whatever we can to promote women’s voices and leadership. Choose to challenge inequality. Choose to challenge all forms of violence against women and girls. Choose to challenge injustice.

Let us bring up our girls to have self-respect and self-esteem. Let us bring up our boys to respect girls. Let us use whatever positions we are in to end all forms of discrimination and all harmful traditional practices. When women and girls are empowered, communities thrive and nations prosper. I wish you all Happy International Women’s Day, and to all the men I say please continue to support and empower the women in your life.



Erelu Bisi Fayemi

First Lady, Ekiti State

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