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  • Laida K. Chongo

Women can lead and make it to the top

In our latest blog post, Laida K. Chongo, A Women's Rights Advocate from Zambia, a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Zambia who has a passion for mentoring young women and women empowerment!


With Zambia heading to the polls this year in August (2021) very few women are vying

for political positions, one Political party however took a brave stance and pointed a

young female as their Party national spokesperson, a position she deserved but

shockingly a male Journalist like many other minds in our country decided to humiliate

her on radio but asking her who she was sleeping with to attain such a position and if

she was still a virgin in the political space!


At some point in this Male dominated political world, we had an alpha female, a global

political icon who helped shape up a future of her country with a mix of brilliance and

iron; she later came to be known as the “Iron Lady” and I want to be sure we all

remember Margaret Thatcher.


In one of her addresses, she once remarked that; “I’ve got a woman’s ability to stick to

a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it”

Thatcher somehow defied conventional wisdom that a woman was not meant to lead.

Even nowadays, it is still easy to pin-point the women who have and will continue to

break through the proverbial glass ceiling that some things are exclusively a male

domain.


On that note, I take you to Oprah Winfrey, a woman of colour who vaulted from

Chicago television host to global fame for her work in business and philanthropy.

Today, Forbes Magazine ranks her among the most influential women on the planet.

She is a kind who continues to excel and she does not show signs of stopping any time

soon.



We have our own intellectually gifted daughter of the soil, Zambia’s own Dambisa Moyo

who was named a world Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2009 and most

recently Mizinga Melu who has braved the odds throughout her career life and is now

the CEO of ABSA bank in Zambia and she is the founder of a non-governmental

organization called When Females Lead which helps young females to excel in their

careers.


These are women who continue demonstrating that stereotype that women are inferior

to men is a mere myth that has fed the mistrust and suspicion of most men and that it

is bound to change and fade with so many women currently rising to higher positions of

influence.


Women can equally lead and make meaning contributions because today have more

control over who they are and whom they want to be in the society and their status,

they are free to make choices about their educational and other opportunities.

Females like men have equal ability to lead and most women have proved that they are

exceptionally good leaders while others have proved that they are even more effective

leaders than same male leaders.



Women have risen to the task and are not only contributing to development in various sectors but they are now employers.


However, there are many reasons today why there seems to be a gap between men

and women and some of them are partly psychological, economical, and traditional

while some of them are mere issues of self-esteem.


For instance, we know of some traditions even in our own communities which prohibit

women to aspire for positions of leadership, certain stereotypes are taught to both men

and women at very tender ages about gender roles such that women and girls begin to

sabotage themselves, internalizing, adopting and believing in such views which proves

to be an impediment to lasting progress.


To tradition, a woman should always be subjective and she should not be in anyway seen to become what most men consider to be their own domain.


You find that because of such stereotypes, women are indirectly taught to embrace less

technical courses such as nursing, tailoring and teaching, the kind that involve working

with people rather than things and its vice versa for men, you would even notice a little

girl would rather play with a doll rather than a car.


Such kind of a society is not favorable for either a girl child or a woman and stereotypes

should be broken and this has to begin from a home. A contemporary parent should

work to revolutionize the mindset of a girl child. Firstly, we should come to a place

where children are treated equally and where impossible does not exist in the

vocabulary. Girl children should not be taught what a man can do and what they cannot

because that is where most problems stem from.


Not that a woman should always try to displace a man from his position of authority,

but it is just right that women should be raised to believe that women can stand on

equal footing with men.


I spoke to a single mother entrepreneur who has been in the same business for over 30

years now and targets school leavers whom she teaches various skills such as wedding

decorations, customer service, resource and people management to mention but a few.

She says she started the business after the bad spending habits of her husband who

she made a brutal decision to divorce and her business has not only created wealth for

her but has developed skills for a lot of young people and also enabled them to serve to

further their education.


Women who are financially independent do not only protect themselves from the

different forms of abuse but they better their own lives as well as the lives of

generations to come because they always put their family’s needs before anything else,

they make long term investments for their children and their children’s children thus

avoiding poverty which others are affected by when their spouses die.


However, some women despite been competent and furthering their education, still fail

to rise to the organizations ladder because they are never taken seriously, their

professional contribution unlike that of a man are at times ignored until a man

authenticates it. It is time women knew that they do not need any approval from a man

and that they can stand on their own. A lady tells her story of how her male manager

took advantage of this myth and persuaded her to buy in the idea of having a

relationship with him in order to have her views heard as he would easily authorize

them.


When you are good, you are good and no one can stop your shine regardless of the

pressures and situations, However, despite all the strides, hard work and commitment

that women put in to achieve things through their effort is still tagged to the male

fork and this has sometimes led to some women failing to attain their full potential.

Both men and women should stop frustrating efforts of women who make it to the top

by labeling them as sleeping around.


Women should also rise above archaic tradition that nothing supersedes marriage.

Today we have read sad testimonies of women who have given up their ambitions for

either marriage or a mere relationship.


One woman came out top of her class at University and later received a scholar to

further her studies abroad but her fiancé was not in support of her living him behind,

she turned down the offer for a master got married and the same husband left her few

years later for another woman.



People need to come to terms with the fact that, it’s not one’s state of being female or male that determines your ability to be a good boss, leader or ability to make decisions, it’s not even about being male or female, it’s about competence and hard work. Women can achieve and overcome on their own!


                                 The Author is a Gender Activist

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