As we celebrate the international day for women, I firmly believe that the time has come to ask some pertinent questions with regard to an overriding sentiment that keeps ensuring women are always relegated to the background and seen as unfit to lead.
From the time a human being is born by a woman, she toils day and night to ensure that child has a fighting chance of surviving and she does this through sleepless nights and endless prayers in the fervent belief that someday that child would become a responsible citizen.
It is to the credit of the womenfolk that children are nurtured and given a solid foundation in their formative years.
It has to take a great deal of industry to be able to tend to the home, engage in trades with a view to putting food on the table and still contend with a world that continually sees her as inferior even when it is obvious that without her selfless efforts, Humanity stands no chance of existing.
According to the late Dame Margaret Thatcher, a one time Prime Minister of Great Britain, any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.
So how on Earth did we arrive at the point where this great and sagacious demographic is viewed as weak?
How on Earth can those who owe their very existence and survival to the womenfolk, turn around and demean such great beings?
How can human beings born and nurtured by women, turn around to claim they lack the capacity to lead?
What is leadership after all?
Who taught those that claim a woman lacks the capacity to lead, how to lead?
What are those attributes that make one a great leader that is found wanting in women?
“It is a fact that Communication is key to effective leadership, particularly when it comes to communicating across cultures and Harvard Business School professor Nitin Nohria, writes that great leaders “spend the bulk of their time communicating.”
Multiple studies over the years have consistently indicated that women are better communicators than men. Some suggest that women use many more words than men (anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words a day to a man’s 5,000 to 10,000). One study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine attributes this to female brains possessing more of the “language protein.”
Women are better listeners and most
female leaders seem to have an innate skill for listening. When one woman is sharing a problem or challenge, the others seem to instantly give their undivided attention. They listen, ask some questions, and then share their thoughts.
Listening is a skill that’s necessary and appreciated across all cultures and particularly useful when leading teams of people from different backgrounds.
Women are also better collaborators. When managing cross-cultural teams, leaders need to understand that team members work, assess problems and come up with solutions differently and women seem to genuinely enjoy working with others. They enjoy learning new perspectives and coming up with solutions together.
A woman in leadership always ensures each person in the room has a voice and is a part of the conversation. This means that everyone’s opinion and skills are included, allowing for stronger and more creative outcomes.
Women are adept at learning other’s perspectives. They’re also very interested in discovering new ways to improve upon themselves and sharpen their skills. This focus on development makes women self-aware–crucial for both improving leadership skills as well as emotional intelligence.
A research by the National Council for Research on Women in the US, concluded that demonstrably, female traits – namely lower self-interest and greed; less risk taking and more prudence – all pointed to them being steadier captains; a more reliable pair of hands and this goes a long way to butress my point about women’s innate abilities to lead successfully.
While some critics argued this reinforced old gender stereotypes rather than said anything new, one academic says he has the proof that women do indeed make better leaders.
Professor Øyvind Martinsen, head of leadership and organizational behavior at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, has been studying personality types and how they impact creativity and innovation for years, concluding there are five pivotal leadership traits: emotional stability, extraversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness and conscientiousness which women have in great abundance.”
Women also make the best natural economists and this is true owing to their innate ability to manage whatever resources they have as demonstrated in the way they manage their households, ensure the children go to school and still make sure to cook up a storm.
All this possibly from her husbands salary of N30,000 which you and I know will not by any stretch of the sane imagination, be the entire funds he releases to her and yet, she successfully manages!
Permit me to remind us that it has never been against the Igbo tradition for women to break kola nut in a gathering but it is just that certain calibre of women are allowed to do so.
Recall also that in Igboland, when issues come to a head with no solution in sight, the Umuada are called to mediate and resolve the matter and this can only be as a result of the great pedestal the Igbo tradition places the Umuada.
Indeed, this is one group no Igbo society jokes with and I therefore wonder where and how we acquired the erroneous impression that women are a weaker gender in the Igbo and other societies.
It is pertinent to note that the first person to meet Jesus Christ after his resurrection was a woman, Mary Magdalene, who stood courageously when the menfolk took to their heels and were cowering and hiding in fear.
It is to her eternal credit that she, unlike the menfolk who denied Jesus and sought refuge in hiding, did not deny him when it mattered the most but believed and latched on to his promise of resurrecting on the third day, which explains why she courageously kept watch within the vicinity of his tomb and was infact, the one that went to convince the hiding menfolk that Jesus had risen by reminding them of his earlier promises which they, out of fear, had long forgotten!
If this is not strong leadership which demonstrates dependability, I really wonder what else is!
That’s a woman for you and the Bible intentionally tells this story to constantly remind Humanity about a woman’s natural inclination to rise to the occasion when the situation demands.
Women have always demonstrated an innate ability to lead and this comes naturally to them which makes me wonder how such a being can suddenly be viewed as incapable of leading.
I believe the time has come for women to be given the opportunity to lead and save us from the mess the menfolk have brought upon us through years of misrule for you will agree with me that we have more than given the menfolk, more than enough time to demonstrate solid leadership which has obviously failed to yield the desired fruit.
In the evergreen words of Susan B. Anthony,
the day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.
Go to Germany and all other countries where a woman holds sway and see how the likes of Angela Merkel is doing great exploits in leadership.
What is it about a woman that birthed and nurtured humanity that the menfolk are afraid to give same woman the opportunity to lead and pull them out of the doldrum they continue to enshrine?
Who is afraid of same woman whose act and art of nurturing first introduced Humanity to the basics of Leadership?
I strongly feel that the menfolk have not been fair to this demographic that gave their all for them to even stand and turn around to denigrate and belittle their great efforts.
We must wean ourselves away from this fearful tendency to belittle the capacity of women to successfully lead and we must begin to assess individuals based on “the content of their character and what they are bringing to the table as opposed to this defeatist and weak appeal to gender.
Our communities need to be nutured back to life and it can only take the natural wisdom inbred in the womenfolk to bring this to fruition.
We must begin to realize and appreciate the great roles played by women in shaping and propping up society and I must salute and encourage all women, for constantly keeping the flag flying in the face of this unfounded and unwarranted intimidation.
You remain the bedrock of society and must constantly keep your head up high for you are amazing, industrious, value work-life balance, empathetic, make great listeners, nurturing, well focussed on teamwork, good at multitasking, motivated by challenges and the strongest communicators Humanity can ever find.
I quite agree with Nancy Rathburn when she rightly opined that a strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection and that she values and uses all of her gifts.
Another great thinker I admire would be Diane Mariechild and I totally endorse her views about a woman being the full circle and that within her lies the power to create, nurture and transform.
To women the world over, I salute you and believe the time is right to undo the wrongs done by men in the name of leadership.
To my ever sagacious and hardworking women of Anambra North, believe me when I tell you that this is your time to soar!
Senator Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah OON.