International Women’s Day (IWD) can be traced back to as far as 1911. In that year, working women in the United States, Switzerland, Denmark, and Austria set aside a day to commemorate how far they have come in challenging gender inequality. Years later in 1977, the UN General Assembly formalized the day, globally. It was monumental.
This historical leap wasn’t a coincidence – it took years of work to make it happen. Work that predated 1911. Those years prior saw women, across all classes, races, and religions, confronting gender inequality in pointed and impactful ways, from drafting new ideologies to overturning legislature in pressing matters: female suffrage, social welfare, etc.
For those women, International Women’s Day wasn’t another day for speeches, poses, or roundtables – although that’s nice too. It was a day when they could deeply reflect on their journey and most importantly, square in on strategies to turn speeches into laws, roundtables into records broken, and poses to real action. So even when that day ended, their work continued, full on.
Not Just Another International Women’s Day (IWD)
It’s important to cherish the very essence of IWD. That’s why at Flutterwave, we’ve termed this year’s International Women’s Day “Not another IWD’, as a call to ourselves and the general public to never lose sight of the true essence of this day, which is: working together to empower women to pull down barriers that hold them back, every day. Because as the women in history have taught us, it takes more than a day to shift the needle of progress significantly. More than a day to rally everyone else to embrace equity. Consider for a moment that after years of tireless work and sacrifice, women are still recording ‘firsts’ and still fighting for their voices to be honored or heard. So after today, what are you doing to embrace equity and be a voice for gender equality?
It Starts With Us
At Flutterwave, we’re conscious of structural limitations that prevail in society and how it impacts us as individuals. Our goal as an organisation is to empower people who exist along those lines and build bridges for them to cross to the other side triumphantly. This goal is reflected in everything we do and embedded in the fabric of our organization. It starts with us. Since inception, we’ve made conscious efforts to ensure that women are sufficiently represented in leadership positions and have achieved 40% representation of women in our organisation – inching closer to our goal of 50-50 gender parity. Indeed, the products you use, and the services you enjoy from us, have been designed by some of the most intelligent and industrious women throughout Africa, and even the world. We exist because of the magic women are capable of when they are given an enabling space to thrive.
It extends to our products. Underpinning our innovation is our goal of enabling businesses of every size to grow, but one type of business particularly excites us: Small Businesses. In Africa, women make up more than 58% of the self-employed population and contribute around 13% of the continent’s GDP. Most of these businesses start small, and they need easy access to intuitive tools to thrive. For these businesses, we’ve designed products that can be accessed at no cost: from the Flutterwave Store that allows people to create free online storefronts to kickstart their hustle, to a dashboard that enables them to monitor daily transactions, to an invoicing service that makes it easy for them to share professional invoices at no cost. We believe easy access drives fairness and contributes to levelling the playing field, and we’re happily championing this.
We also #ChooseToChallenge the financial challenges women face as they do business. In 2021, we launched an annual grant to provide women with much-needed capital to expand their businesses. In 2021, the grant awarded 7 women-led businesses with US$2,500 each in addition to providing training and mentorship programs. In 2022, we took another challenge to bridge the gap in financing for women in business across Africa and pledged $50,000 to support women-led businesses across Africa. In 2023, we are not just marking IWD, we are not resting on our 40% representation of women or any of the other things we’ve done, we’re pushing for more opportunities for female employees, small businesses, and individuals. We’re making one day (IWD), every day.
We’ll keep playing a leading role in enforcing change and creating a lasting impact in the fight against gender inequality and bias. Join us as we embrace equity, today, tomorrow, and every day!
Happy International Women’s Day 🎉