Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated, and for good reason. For women like Esther Nenadi Usman, it is an opportunity to show that women hold up half the world, and therefore should have the same rights and opportunities as their male counterparts. Usman is a woman who is changing the world, and she believes days like International Women’s Day are absolute necessities to show women and men alike how far we have come.

Who Is Esther Nenadi Usman?

Senator Nenadi Esther is the former finance minister from the state of Southern Kaduna in Nigeria. Not only was she a minister in an economic and financial role, which is very rare for women, she has also been a role model for all women in Kaduna and beyond. A tireless fighter for the social, political, sexual, economic, and religious rights of women, Nenadi is always trying to make the world a better, fairer, equal place. Esther even married a Muslim man, being one of the few people in her country to have a successful interfaith marriage.

Understanding the Women’s Movement

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the women’s movement started in earnest. Some believe that this was as a result of women having to take on traditionally male roles, including in the workplace, and them therefore no longer agreeing with being subservient. However, while women took on working rights, they did not yet have voting rights. This, in turn, left them voiceless economically and politically. A public outcry against this gave rise to the first International Women’s Day (IWD).

International Women’s Day

The very first IWD was held on the last Sunday of February in the United States in 1909. It was an opportunity for the Socialist Party of America to demand equal political, economic, and voting rights. Rallies and demonstrations followed, many of which became quite violent. Quickly, feminists and socialists in Australia, Canada, Europe, and even Russia took hold of the movement, holding strikes, demonstrations, and more. Indeed, it was the strike of women in Russia on February 23, 1917 that eventually led to the abdication of Nicholas II and for women to gain the right to vote. Russia then converted to the Gregorian calendar, and the day was marked on March 8th, which is now IWD the world over.

Revolutionary Women

Nenadi Esther Usman sees herself as a feminist, which, as the slogan goes, refers to “the radical notion that women are people”. Nenadi has spent her life showing, in a peaceful manner, that women should be treated, paid, educated, and employed under the same terms and conditions, and with the same rights, as men. And that is a radical notion to this day in certain parts of the world.

Nenadi believes much work needs to be done still, but progress is being made. She taken on a traditionally male professional role, but she is not alone in that. Esther Usman believes all women can be all they want to be, and they should have the right to do so. And Nenadi Esther feels that, until this has been achieved, IWD must continue to be celebrated each year.