IWD2020: Each for Equal

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. Collectively founded by women, the day is dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. International Women’s Day also brings attention to gender parity. Gender parity is a statistical measure that compares women and men through their income, education, and work hours, among other points. This sociological metric helps researchers understand how society is progressing or regressing in specific areas. It’s also an important tool for policymakers striving towards gender equality.

International Women’s Day was officially first celebrated in 1911. In 1975, the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day, and, in 1996, began to adopt an annual theme for every year. This year’s theme is ‘Each for Equal.’ The campaign is drawn from a notion of 'Collective Individualism’ and provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action to create a gender-equal world.

The global celebration of International Women’s Day is a time for reflection on how far women have come, advocacy for what is still needed, and action to continue breaking down barriers. On the surface, sub-Saharan Africa boasts the world’s highest rate of women entrepreneurs, at 27%. The MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2017 listed two African countries, Uganda (34.8%) and Botswana (34.6%), as having the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs globally. Also, female entrepreneurs are not evenly spread across the continent. Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia have disproportionately high numbers. In the tech ecosystem particularly, few women attempt start-ups; in Africa, only 9% of start-ups have women leaders, according to a 2016 study by Venture Capital for Africa, a Netherlands-based organization that connects start-ups to opportunities. Technology firms led by women experience a 35% higher return on investment than those led by men, according to a paper by the venture capitalist firm Illuminate Ventures. That means investors and other venture capitalists lose out by not providing financial support for women-led businesses.

Women’s inclusion in tech is very crucial in the development of the Nigerian tech ecosystem and so each of us has a part to play in making the industry more inclusive. This can be achieved by promoting young women in STEM in the form of mentorship and donations to organizations dedicated to the cause, as well as making workplaces more accommodating for women.

The notion of ‘collective individualism’ refers to the idea that every individual is a part of a whole, and that an individual’s actions, behaviors, and mindsets can all have an impact on the larger society. While many are working to raise awareness of the perspectives and skill-sets that women bring to the tech ecosystem, initiatives are being launched to bridge the gender gap.

We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors, and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. An equal world is an enabled world.

Let’s all be #EachforEqual