Barack Obama is quoted to have said “Empowering women is not just the right thing to do – it is the smart thing to do”.
I was asked to be a speaker at an all-women seminar later this month. It is for business women in leadership positions. Sadly, due to gender inequality, women still find it challenging to be acknowledged and progress in the business world. They are facing so many biases, illogical perceptions and unfair practices. For ages women submitted to these injustices, but the time has come where not only women, but also a lot of men are taking a stand to change this. This kind of discrimination is not only unfair, but also foolishness – crippling contribution, talent, creativity, team work and collaboration we so desperately need to build effective and happy organisations and a better world.
So, let me give you a sneak preview of some of the points I will share (I think they are really powerful – but you be the judge):
- Identity, Unique Voice & Authenticity: know who you really are – as a human and a woman, a uniquely gifted individual, a leader, part of something bigger, a professional person with an important contribution to make. Then, ban all inferiorities, and operate from a place of confidence and competence.
- Mindfulness: we should all (definitely myself included) be mindful / aware of the “preconceived blinkers” we bring to the conversation – so, let’s try to be objective about our subjectivity.
- Complexity: Diversity and gender (in)equality are not simplistic but complex issues – let’s try to find simplicity beyond complexity (not before).
- Proactivity: Reactivity weakens and blinds; proactivity (to choose your goal, best strategy and subsequent actions) empowers.
- The end in mind: Know what you don’t want to achieve (e.g. only to be right / merely win arguments / evoke guilt or aggression). Then, keep in sight what the grander visionis (e.g. collaboration, equality, mutual appreciation and a better world for all).
- Focus: Focus on your circle of influence (controllables), not your circle of concern (uncontrollables). Then do what you can to help the cause.
- Women Leaders as Change Agents: Understand the subtle dynamics of change and how that operates in a human system. Influence and lead wherever you can!
When asked by a pastor to say something about International Women’s day, I pondered on the question: what would this planet be without women? I think it would be rather dull and boring (except for the fact that it will be impossible). Women, with all their heartfelt emotions, bring music and colour to life. In fact, they make life possible in so many ways.
Women are tough, yet compassionate. They are courageous enough to give birth (something very few men will ever want to or be able to do) and fend for their families. And yet you can be so supportive, sympathetic, loving and caring. You manage to be your own person. And yet you can also be the glue, bringing people together to collaborate and play at your strengths. You help us to understand the value of life, and teach us about values. Above all, in a unique way, as image bearers, you help us to see glimpses of God in ways that no man can. This planet definitely needs women in their rightful place!
So, my message to every woman is: firstly, embrace yourself and your womanhood. Then, brace yourself and bravely be all you are in the wisest and best possible ways you can!
I TAKE MY HAT OFF TO YOU!