On March 8 every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated globally to appreciate and recognize women, their achievements and struggles in all spheres of life especially socially, culturally, politically and economically. It has also been tagged as a day to promote gender equality. Women have come a long way in their struggle for equality and International Women’s Day has been occurring for well over a century to help foster this cause – it continues to grow from strength to strength. “The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” -Aung San Suu Kyi says. According to Gloria Steinem, a world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist. “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”.

To honor the International Women’s Day, the International Office of the University in collaboration with the various University student societies organized an event today, the 8th March 2017 at the Mustafa Afsin Ersoy Salonu (RED HALL) EMU CL Building with the theme, #BeBoldToChange.

The inspiring and motivational seminar recorded an attendance of Staff members and students particularly female. The speakers at the seminar shared. Their various thoughts about women’s day and women’s rights. In a speech with Mr. Emmanuel, the Cameroonian student’s society President, he said “We are not celebrating this day only because the world is celebrating, we are celebrating because we need to create an awareness campaign about the importance of women and the rights they deserve to be accorded”. Mr. Emmanuel concluded his speech by saying that “the struggle for equality is not a fight for women alone, women have to be empowered and given equal opportunities as men”.

Various Speeches were given about women in various works of life and the challenges they faced. A fact was established that empowering women and changing the way the world views women is not a one-person task, Nancy Achn, a M.A International Relations student, in her speech about Women and Education said “Already educated women should use their acquired skills to do jobs the world tags as unconventional for women and should also empower uneducated women”.

Speaking about women and entrepreneurship, Miss Katherine, an Accountant and graduate of EMU advised that women relentlessly venture into more entrepreneurship investments. She encouraged the women to take part in more networking and also to form a relationship with already established women who would be like role models to them.

Prof. Nuray Ibryamova, an EMU International Relations lecturer and speaker at the event said “We must change our attitudes towards women’s rights before we can then change social policies and achieve empowerment afterwards.” She also encouraged men in the audience to change their attitudes towards women.

A contribution platform was open to the audience to share their thoughts and experiences about women’s day and rights and many cases of sexual harassment towards women on campus were brought to the limelight. Prof. Nuray disclosed that Policies on sexual harassment had been introduced by the University, however, those policies would have to be implemented.

Hamidreeza Munibi, a PhD International Relations student and also a speaker at the event explained that the time for us to be advocates of change for the rights of women is now and not later. He ended his speech with a quote from Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

To spice up the event, short skits were played by a few students where roles between men and women were changed. Awareness Videos were also played to show the problems women faced like body shaming, harassment etc. and also how to tackle them. Discussions about whether women are too weak were also had.

The event which ended at 8:00 pm was indeed enlightening for all who were in attendance. We encourage everyone to celebrate women everyday, not just on a special day because the strength of a woman cannot be fathomed. The fight for Women’s rights and equality cannot be achieved when we fold our arms and watch these rights taken for granted, it begins with a bold stand of saying “No” to threats against the rights of women. As Maya Abgelou rightly puts it “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women”.

Story by Jemima Attii