For too long, we as a community and as a race have left the task of leading our nations to our menfolk. Men have for centuries and through different generations been at the head of governments, companies, groups, associations and even family – which however is a God given role.
God made the man the head of his own home and tasked him to be the breadwinner and protector of his family. He was given the responsibility of ensuring his kids are well trained, clothed and educated and that his wife has a good roof over her head.
Over many centuries and through many generations, many men have successfully carried out this task and proudly fulfilled their roles as family head. And we have also seen many extend their responsibilities to community or national head. Men have headed companies and multinationals with great successes. However, we cannot fail to notice that many of the world’s conflicts and a good number of national or even domestic conflicts, have men at the very centre.
But this is not an article about men. Neither is it a man-bashing piece.
This article is to explore and focus on the role of women – not as opposites – but as alternatives in nation builders and as leaders. Afterall, women were also given the role as help mates (helpers) to men. To be co-workers and co-equals with different yet equally important roles in family, community and nation building. Many have said if the man is the head of the family, then women are the neck and backbone without which the head cannot stand. The head rests on the neck and the back gives support and stability.
For years, women have been denied the ability to perform and carry out these roles effectively. The misapplication of the commandment that “a woman must submit to her own husband” has ensured that women have been reduced to the position of near useless second class citizens fit only for childbearing and house cleaning. Some cultures forbid the education of women and others have a solid ban on women driving or venturing out of their homes unaccompanied. And even where women have been able to achieve educational qualifications and sound training, their skills and abilities have been rendered almost obsolete and useless as they are seldom called upon or encouraged to lead or hold senior positions.
Statistics show that there are more women in education than men at any given time and that women on average often perform better than their male counterparts and generally obtain better qualifications.
“Girls do better than boys at school even in countries where women’s liberties are severely restricted, a study has revealed. New research shows that girls outperform boys in mathematics, reading and science literacy in 70% of countries regardless of levels of national gender equality”
Telegraph 22 Jan 2015
But these achievements are rarely transferred to management or leadership functions and situations.
It is disgraceful in this day and age, to see nations like the United Kingdom and the United States talking about the “first ever female president” (which they couldn’t even make happen) or “second ever female prime minister” and still claim to be the most developed countries in the world. As for the not so developed countries, having female Presidents or Heads of States is almost taboo as men still cannot imagine the thought of having women rule over them. And is spite of the wealthy pool of highly intelligent and highly educated women out there, it is only in rare situations that you would come across women heading huge companies or government departments. There has been an age long subconscious attitude that discourages women from progressing beyond a certain level in the workplace.
But in recent years, we are beginning to see a change in men having or holding the sole rights to leadership. Thanks to the modern day feminist movements, women are beginning to step out of the shadow of their male counterparts and step into high level roles and responsibilities. In Europe today, at least 5 countries including the United Kingdom and Germany have women leaders and 1 in Africa. The US came very close to having their first ever female President in the White House. The International Monetary Fund is being headed by a woman Christine Lagarde and there are currently 7 women bosses at the FTSE 700 even though this is a rather small percentage out of the total 100 bosses.
And when speaking of the world’s richest people, we cannot leave out at least two women Folorunsho Alakija – a Nigerian oil baroness and fashionista, and of course American Television personality Oprah Winfrey.
All over the world and through various industries from the arts and entertainment to finance and politics, we are seeing several women who have hustled, struggled and juggled their careers with their responsibilities as wife and mother and managed to get to the top of their game – even if it means working twice as hard as their male counterparts. Many even have had to put up with bullying, harassment and even unwanted sexual advances from their male colleagues.
But what these women all have in common is that THEY WENT OUT THERE, THEY TRIED THEIR DAMNEST, GAVE THEIR ALL AND THEY DID IT.
We won’t have the Beyonces or the Rihannas (Top female artistes) or the Serena Williams (Top Tennis star)or Angela Merkels (German President) or JK Rowlins (multibillionaire writer of Harry Potter books) or Theresa Mays (UK Prime Minister) or Viola Davies (Female Oscar Winner) that the entire world knows today if they did not get up, go out, work hard and just do it. Even Michelle Obama would not have been heard of if she didn’t work extremely hard to be the kind of woman fit for a future American president.
The Bible is also filled with old time female heroines and role models. We have Miriam, Queen Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Hannah, Judge Deborah, Mary the Mother of our Lord, Mary Magdalene, Lydia etc. What all these women have in common is that they were all women of action and determination. They went out and did what was necessary and impacted their families, their communities and the generations after them.
These are examples of female leaders and mentors or role models. The type of women our daughters must fashion their lives after. A lot of our girls are simply being educated but they lack proper role models to emulate. Many of them have the likes of Kim Kardashian or the girls from TOWIE as their role models. Girls who are known best for their make up antics, sexual escapades and wardrobes.
I am all for looking good and smelling nice. But these are simply extras. I want our girls to be successful achievers in their own rights. I would love to see our girls take after the likes of Orprah Winfrey owning their own Television and Media organisations and becoming employers of labour made up of both men and women. I would like to see our girls emulate JK Rowlins and write bestseller novels that people all over the planet will queue up overnight to purchase as soon as they are released – then major film studios falling over themselves for filming rights. I would like to see women who will study hard, work hard and get to the position that men and women will practically beg them to lead their political parties and possibly country. I would like to see girls who will develop the entrepreneurial spirit from young ages and own their own companies and brands by the time they are 30.
But how can these girls be motivated or inspired to do these things?
This is where mentors and role models come in. Women who have “done it” must start to come out more and show themselves to our young ones. They need to stop being recluses and visit our schools, Sunday schools, playgrounds and talk earnestly to our girls. Talk to them and inspire them and let the know that it is possible to become a somebody. To convince them that “nothing is impossible if you put your mind and elbow grease into it” We need to show them that if we can do it, then they too can do it – even better!
But, it is not always about face to face meetings and personal encounters. Women who have attained” must learn and realise that they are being watched by people out there…and many of those watchers are younger aspiring ladies. On several occasions, I have been approached by ladies who have told me I am their mentor or role model. These have been ladies that I have never met or interacted with but somehow, I have been inspiring and influencing them from afar and thankfully, positively. Thank God that I try my uttermost to behave myself and comport myself with decency in public. We really have no idea who is watching us and we can either be a mentor albeit distant – or detractor for someone.
It is of absolutely no use if we are successful well dressed, well spoken, women but hold negative reputations. Nobody wants their daughters to emulate a trouble maker or a loose woman.
In these days of social media, Facebook is awash with shameless, unhibited women who are not afraid to wash all their dirty linen in public. All their family and friends’ secrets are freely publicised for the world to see and all their fights are held on the internet. Now these women are someone’s mother, someone’s wife and someone’s aunties. But would you want your daughter to be influenced by such women? No! I’m sure. Neither would I. I have two daughters and I am always pushing them towards the pages and stories of highly respectable and high achieving women to emulate – including myself (laugh)
But seriously speaking, what our children are exposed to goes a long way in determining what they want to become.
Yes we want our women to be good women who can cook, take care of their homes and look after their husbands and children. But we want them to be highly successful and wealthy women who can also cook, clean and take care of their husbands.
The days of thinking women are only good for the kitchen, the living room and the other room are long over. Nowadays, women are just as well suited for the boardroom, cabinet offices and conference tables too.
But how would they know they can get there – if we do not show them.
This is why we need more female mentors and role models.