Novelist “Margret Atwood” first discussed that “we still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly”. This is true in so many facets!
Often time, people misconstrue these statements as solely for feminist! But No! This simply indicates actual happenings in life while seeking for fine gender balance.The leadership disparity between men and women is huge. In some countries, very few people are starting these conversation because this disparity has become the culture, it has been accepted as the norm in most African countries but Rwanda.
I recently carried out an in-depth research with the help of some outstanding professors, which I will discuss in my upcoming book. My research shows that Africans have bought into the culture that has told them from the time they were born that women are not capable of leadership and this has systematically stuck in their mindset including the mindset of women!
A year ago in London, I was at the House of Parliament where I was invited to speak on CORRUPTION in public offices.
It was a serendipitous moment for me. Nation building, system accountability, bridging gaps, shifting paradigms, gender balance,breaking stereotypes, growth in the economy were some of all I needed to accomplish while speaking at the House of Parliament on that day.
The room in the parliament was filled with majorly men, we had about two female leaders at this engagement. After my speaking engagement, one of the women who meant well constantly called my attention in an effort to show me the room she had kept “specially”for me to join in a photo session. She looked like she was in her fifties I believe. “Princess here is a place for you” she said. I turned and looked around. This well meaning woman had kept a position for me behind the men where only the men occupied the front row.
“This is typical of most uneducated and selfish African Leaders, the men believe they are true leaders, thus should have a seat at the table while women often time do not deserve a seat where decisions are made. It is an absurd cultural phenomenon” says Douglas Lima, a university undergraduate of Virginia State University.
During these times, I had been carrying out a research for over two years which examines WHY THERE ARE FEW WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, so informing me that a seat had been created for me behind the men and not at the table, sparked a strong feeling of disapproval in me and I immediately retorted “ I WILL SEAT AT THE TABLE.
She systematically believed that women should be behind the men, not at the table where the men gallantly occupied and where decisions are made.That day, it dawned on me that truly women often hold themselves back from advancement with self imposed barriers. Perhaps she thought having the men in front sit would protect us women, but NO!that wasn’t a position for protection.
So many things came into my mind, amongst which were; educate her,help her embrace her power, let her know she deserves a seat right where decisions are made, help transform her mindset etc.. and YES! I did ensure within that minute, we embraced inclusion at that table. Every girl can be a leader if they have access to education and opportunity.
We must change this culture.We live in mostly patriarchal world and this has continuously affected our people.We need to continuously educate our people on values and mindset change that the next generation will emulate. Teach them that when you respect a woman and not subject her to her sexuality in conversations or try to belittle her ambition because she is a woman, that makes you a real man. It is not happening overnight. We must continuously speak and share this conversation. It should not be a world where some survive, it should be a world where women thrive.
My goal is to create a world in which women and men share equally in power, responsibility, and leadership from the boardroom to the bedroom, from congress to city hall, and every place in between, in every sector. We encounter barriers and difficulties because it is directed to our history. My goal is to shake up the status quo regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. Gender balance needs men who have the courage to stand by women.
As we continue to evolve as a society that honors gender balance and leadership parity, we must understand that the future is not only female but embodies a spectrum of gender identities, and is committed to intersectionality. Let us create a world where women are allowed to assume their power, embrace their full potentials and the men are not threatened by it. Let us embrace leadership inclusion.