Women have come a long way from the late 1800s and early 1900s activism where women fought hard for the right to vote and equal pay, to the feminism days of 1970s where women were at the fore front of protesting, rallying and lobbying for inclusion, influence and equality, to the times of “fix-the-women” program that was trying to make women more confident, viable and assertive to fit in the world of men.
In the 1990s, the “change the organization” was popular, focusing on changing the organization structure so women can have better opportunities and in the 2000s the “Men as Allies” was also popular which advocate for men being champions of change, supporting women equality.
In recent years, “inclusion” is the new trend where women demand inclusion in every aspect of life. This has led to global rise in international women’s day celebration in every corner of the world.
Feminism had not appeared in Nigeria until roughly 40 years ago. Feminist movements have tried to push agendas leading to more gender equality in Nigeria. Among the most known are Federation of Nigerian Women’s Societies (FNWS), Women in Nigeria (WIN), Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) and Female in Nigeria (FIN). Still, most of them have failed to bring about significant political, social or economic growth. Though not without protest, new feminist movements and gender awareness are forming in Nigeria. Online, women are using mobile phones for social capital building and empowerment, to access information and to form relationships with communities they would not normally engage with.
In Northern Nigeria, the most recent movement was the “Arewa metoo” movement which provided a platform where many people shared stories of all sorts of violence. For the northern part of Nigeria dominated by Islam and the Hausa culture, it was rather an enormous achievement for women to voice out their stories of abuse.
Social media has become a safe space for women to share their sexual and gender-based violence stories without being afraid of judgment, condemnation or stigmatization.
Popular pages on Instagram like Northern Habiscus, Open Dairies and Dairy of Northern woman have over the years becomes safe spaces and also are always at the fore front of advocating the rights of women.
The Covid-19 lockdown has seen an increase of cases of sexual and gender-based violence which triggered the whole nation, demanding justice for victims and women leading most of the protests.
Activitism has come a long way globally and it only shows sign of breaking more barriers and proving to the world the potential of women.