'Locally, I don't think much has changed for women'
Janet Adams (51) is a hypnotherapist and NHS support worker. Living in Belfast, she has one son, and believes that it is much better to be a female in 2021 than it was in her mother's or grandmother's day, but there are still some issues.
"Locally, I don't think much has changed for women, in terms of how, despite their employment status, they are expected to take on the role of homemaker and carer (of both children and ageing family members).
"The skills required to do this are often not given their true value and women are the unsung heroes of the home. Many also have the added pressure of commitment to their job and can suffer from a lack of time and space to care for themselves.
"Of course things have changed a lot from the two preceding generations as women now have more opportunities in education and careers, while many men play a greater role in supporting the women in their lives.
"And being able to earn or have access to our own money, not to mention the availability of basic household appliances, have made our lives luxurious in comparison to our grandmothers.
"But the insidious view that a woman's value should be judged by her aesthetic appeal needs to change as many younger women are turning to cosmetic procedures.
"Also, society needs to respect a women's right to be either happily single or attached.
"I would like to see women supporting each other - we are not in competition with each other and instead are allies, attempting to change the world for the better."
'There are so many opportunities available to women these days'
Michelle McCauley (40) from Belleek, Co Fermanagh, works in tourism in Co Donegal and believes that there are a still a few issues to be addressed when it comes to women leading equal lives to their male counterparts. But, on the whole, life is better than it was a generation ago.
"There are so many opportunities available to women these days in comparison to times gone by. And it's really great to see a female Vice President in America. My grandmothers both lived through the Second World War and my mother lived through the Troubles, so life is so much better for women these days.
"And when you look at what happened in the Mother and Baby Homes, it shows that there is a lot more respect for women now. There are also many amenities to hand and more money in the economy than there was when my mother and my grandmothers were growing up - mothers are working today rather than having no disposable income as they did in the past.
"But there does need to be flexibility in the workplace for working mothers, as so many women are trying to juggle motherhood and looking after elderly parents.
"My advice to the next generation of women would be to not stress about how others perceive them. We are all created to be different and don't need to take the same route of school followed by university and family.
"Females are more likely to be empathetic than males so don't judge, as you never know what anyone else is going through.
"Whatever you are happy doing, just do it, and if you are unhappy in your work or personal life, then leave. Live your life the way you want to live it and not by how others want you to."
'Women have had enough of making themselves small and invisible'
Yvonne Smith lives in Ballymena, Co Antrim, with her two sons, aged 10 and 11. Working as a parent coach, the 51-year-old says women have had enough of being unheard and are living bigger and better lives than ever before.
"I feel events of 2020 have broken down a lot of barriers between women because regardless of our jobs, financial position or social standing, we've all struggled with the fallout of this pandemic. We've all suffered isolation, loneliness, fear and grief and I see women being much more open and honest about their struggles rather than trying to present some image of perfection. Also lots of women are reaching out and lifting others up, whether that means offering practical or financial assistance, or simply words of support and encouragement.
"I've seen such beautiful examples of sisterhood on a global scale. Also, I feel that women have had enough of making themselves small, invisible, quiet, compliant and 'good'.
"And many are rising up, bolstered and emboldened by women all over the world who are spreading this message of empowerment.
"And although we have been through a period where women thought they had to do everything in order to be worthy, I feel we're moving into a new phase - an understanding and awareness that soft and strong are not mutually exclusive, nor are softness and tenderness qualities to be kicked to the kerb, but rather are acknowledged as part of our superpower, not just at home, but in the workplace and beyond in society at large. However, I'm not suggesting that this is true for all as some women have found the past 12 months to be the hardest of their lives.
"But I feel it's a great time to be a woman and I'm personally excited about how the next decade will unfold for us all.
"On the other hand, I do think we could do with better support for working mothers, such as longer maternity leave, greater support for flexible working, more funded training and support for mothers returning to the workplace after an extended absence.
"At a more fundamental level, I feel society needs to stop teaching boys to be tough and aggressive and girls to be meek and mild.
"It is not doing either gender a favour.
"Teaching emotional intelligence in schools, plus mindfulness and other tools and skills around emotional wellbeing and positive mental health would be a huge step forward for everyone."
'We recognise that there is no need to explain ourselves'
Isobel McWilliams (51) lives in Derry with her husband Emmet. She has three grown-up children, works for Donegal Local Development Company and says that International Women's Day reminds her of how far women have come, but also that it is a continuous journey.
"Whilst my career is central to who I am, my greatest role is motherhood. I am blessed to have been able to do both and this was down to a strong support network. IWD reminds us that we have an obligation to continue the work which other women started on our behalf, as across the world many still face violence, discrimination, and injustice in everyday life.
"I believe previous generations have felt the need to 'prove' themselves, not only to men and to society but also to themselves. But now, as females, we recognise that there is no need to explain ourselves in the first place.
"We also now have great support at home from our male partners, husbands and sons and we are much better at self-care and taking time to ourselves. And if this means we sub-contract out the housework or sometimes let it fall down the list or order take out when we are too tired to cook, then that is now fine.
"But the patriarchal societal, economic and political model that is still dominant across the world still needs to change. I have no doubt that it is changing, but it will take time.
"There is progress, however, of that I am sure. Society needs to do more and acknowledge the contribution from older or more mature females - employers have procedures and policies in place for younger females in relation to maternity and childcare, but support is also needed for those going through menopause and peri-menopause.
"Overall I believe that women have become more confident; you just need to look at the younger generation speaking on worldwide platforms imparting their message, such as Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafazai, Emma Gonzalez and the most recent beautiful voice of Amanda Gorman.
"The female voice is no longer silent, and we also have so many great examples at an international level of female leadership, such as Jacinda Ardern, whose leadership is applauded.
"We are imparting our voices and knowledge on to our daughters and our sons and generating a conversation and respect across genders, acknowledging all the while that we are not quite there yet, but we will all strive to do better.
"In the words of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 'Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception'."