International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on 8 March annually, and while it is often a standout day wherein women and allies congregate to celebrate and empower women, how do we continue this practice of appreciation once the clock strikes midnight?

Perhaps this year, we can resolve to heighten our awareness and continue to uplift women around us, resulting in a community with greater opportunities for everyone to excel, thrive and engage. 

IWD 2023 is all about #EmbracingEquity, this includes providing specific tools and support necessary to individuals according to their needs, to achieve success. The purpose of IWD is to raise awareness of what remains to be achieved for women to have equal and equitable opportunity. Historical persistence of awareness has seen an increase in education and work opportunities for girls and women alike, paving the way for financial independence, and hence improvement of the quality of life for their entire families.

However, we have yet to reach the goal for children of all genders to receive education at all levels and for all women to have the opportunity for education, career advancement and financial independence.

In an interview in Germany in 2009, His Highness the Aga Khan said, “The respect that is due to women is a very important factor in the Islamic world, and in the history of Islam and in the faith itself. And my interpretation is, the better educated the woman is, the more respect she's going to get in modern civil society.”

The trajectory for women worldwide has begun to diversify toward more opportunities for higher education and professional employment. When empowered in their roles, whether as CEO’s or homemakers, women are able to contribute to the entire community within which they live. This affirms the value of familial support in personal and professional success.

While each woman is perfectly capable of fulfilling her goals independently, a woman supported by her loved ones can reach heights beyond what she can hope to do alone. This is akin to a single candle. It can defeat the darkness alone, but when you use its flame to light another candle, the brightness grows, the light expands and the darkness is further chased away.

This can be applied to our daily lives. When the women in our families have the chance to access higher education and build professional careers, it reduces the pressure to have a sole breadwinner and creates a cycle of progress and improvement in quality of life.

As homemakers and mothers, women are the principal educators outside the classroom, they do a large share of the nurturing that children require to flourish and excel. They are instrumental in preserving our culture through generational recipes, teaching children tradition, stories and the significance and history of one's own culture. Homemakers generate immense value and positive impact, which cannot be measured in mere monetary figures. Their work deserves acknowledgement for what they generate and for the opportunity cost they may have incurred, sometimes silently.

Consider for a moment what your life would look like without the warmth and constant care of the women around you. Part of our Islamic tenet is to care for those around us. Homemakers fulfil this duty in abundance, so now let us fulfil our duty towards them.

This International Women’s Day, let us make a real change. Let us honour our homemakers. Let us recognise their love, skill and magnanimity in keeping us happy and healthy. Let us continue to empower the women around us to shatter glass ceilings and passionately support them in achieving their greatest dreams and ambitions.