Many view leadership and power as one and the same, often times associating the ease of access acquired by money and power to mean leadership. Just as many may beg to differ understanding that power does corrupt and that leadership has little to do with amount of power but rather the use of this power.
The Kenyan parliament went ahead and dragged out the Gender Bill which gives effect to the two thirds gender rule. A greater and deeper question lingers begging to be asked. What is the role of women leadership?
A quick search on the internet will reveal quite an impressive list of women leaders, often time referring to those been such as Joan of Arc from the mediaeval era who successfully led the French armies against the English; Cleopatra of Egypt famous for her love affair with Mark Antony with little mentioned on her creating peace in a civil war torn kingdom or Empress Wu Zeitan from ancient China who remains to be the first and only self acclaimed female empress to have ruled with an iron fist. Little is said about those closer home like the infamous Mekatilili wa Menza or Nunu Fatima Binti Zakaria of Mogincual precolonial Mozambique who was an excellent warrioress and slave trader capable of fighting off the colonial invasion by herself.
In modern times we have plenty others: from president Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia, prime ministers Margaret Thatcher of Britain, Julie Gillard of Australia, Indira Gandhi of India and Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan as well as Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. We have entrepreneurs like Peng Lei co-founder of Alibaba group, Fumiko Hayashi of BMW Tokyo who’s also a mayor and Tabitha Karanja of Keroche Breweries. Well, it is best stated that only 21 African women are recognised in the Wikipedia list of leaders and none of those mentioned from Kenya are in fact in the political arena.
One thing jumps out from the list, many of these women are active entrepreneurs. They have been busy from establishment to establishment before actively engaging in politics if they do. Looking deeper into these women’s backgrounds, they have often times found themselves actively and widely studying in something they are passionate about, working closely with groups or considered final decision makers. In simpler terms, they have been influencers within the community, country and the globe at large.
So, do our modern women understand what it truly means to be a woman leader? An influencer is able to create engagement amongst those they’re working with, enough to direct attention and energy to where it is needed. Engagement in this case refers to productivity driven by passion and belief that failure will be overcome. An influencer recruits folks into a cause because of passion they ignite in others. They guide the culture towards achieving the cause, creating grit as they chart out the long term goals to achieving a dream.
A random fact, a company survey revealed that employees involved in goals setting and decision making were 3.6 times more engaged and therefore more productive and successful as institutions. What does this have to do with women leadership?
UN synonymously relates women leadership with public participation, the very act of involving the public in decision making within its region and country. This survey further stated that the women leaders’ concerns were different from that of the men, often times concerned by the livelihoods of their people. The large number of men however tended to make the women put their own concerns aside in a bid to fit the status quo. In this case the need for women in leadership is clearly outlined. It however comes in order to state that whatever the numbers, those who do not truly understand their role as women leaders do not have enough of a contribution to make.
This is especially true for a country such as our own, as we try hard to save ourselves from drowning in a neck deep pool of foreign debts. Without enough internal generation of funds to pay back, the vicious cycle of borrowing for development we can no longer afford, continues. This cycle has proven to be unsustainable and grievous to the citizens. We need an internal mind-set to revive, regenerate and stabilise our socio-economy as we try to attain financial freedom and stability. This is in order to complement the focus on the rather physical aspects to the dream titled Vision 2030. We are in need of influencers, to motivate and engage our citizens in patriotism and country ownership: to remind us Kenya is our Rome, we are both the builder and the stone laid to build our Rome.
So, what is women leadership? One might say it is the use of one’s power as an influencer to instigate growth, change and development by redirecting a masses’ grit towards one common goal at a time. In simpler terms, the making of a country into the home we dream of.