Good afternoon, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, It is my pleasure to speak to you this morning on a topic that is dear to my heart.
Because I am one that tends to see a glass as half full rather than half empty, I do believe in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes. That is Feminism! I strongly believe so even though it is still very much a man’s world.
My conviction is that empowering women is the process through which we can make this belief a reality. Afterall, what is the point in one woman being empowered when millions are not?
I will want us to accept that our progress to this ideal is hindered by our own sense of self worth. We women must accept that we have been stereotyped and stop accepting to be in these boxes society has put us in.Sadly, we do not even realize it that we have to do the work ourselves and shift our mindset. The first step, though is accepting that we need to change our mindset. A few days ago I was part of a panel discussion of a women’s group of very talented professional women in a male dominated profession and the female president in a bid to explain why we should not compare ourselves to others said and I quote “if your husband has not yet to bought a car for you and your friend’s husband has done so, don’t compare….” I broke protocol and interrupted the President and asked “ why can’t she buy a car for herself or even for her husband and must wait for her husband to do so”… This, coming from a highly accomplished woman leader says it all. Someone who probably bought her OWN car and other things for herself and others. What then can we expect from someone less educated, less accomplished?
We have a lot of work to do. We must make use of our most important resource as women, time. We will attend all functions – Let’s take a quick look at the schedule of a typical woman for a Saturday – Outdooring at 7.30 a.m – dress code white – after the outdooring, we must make an appearance at a funeral – dress code is black, so we dart into a washroom available and change into black ..after the funeral I must absolutely show my face at a friend’s wedding so the colour code is green so there I pop into another washroom nearby and change and make an appearance…. The list goes on.
We do not have time to exercise, we do not have time for preventive medicine and do our periodic check ups, as a result, diseases that could be prevented, we are getting and dying and leaving our children in distress… because we women are the fulcrum of our families. What hurts me is a disease like cervical cancer takes 15 to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop in women with normal immune systems. It can take only 5 to 10 years in women with weakened immune systems, and yet how many of us take time off to have our pap smear.
So How do we empower our women?
- education: education, education, advocacy, affirmative action…
- WE MUST BE EXCELLENT AND EXPERTS IN OUR LINE OF WORK SO WE ARE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. MEDIOCRITY IS NOT AN OPTION
- WE should dress decently.
- when you are in positions of influence, put policies in place to help fresh mothers, as an HR practitioner I believe a lot could be done in the world of work if we were more intentional about making women more hungry – hungry for leadership positions, with the current situation, we leave the men to decide on policies for our welfare and they get it wrong as they do not know how it is like to be a woman and they wont ask us, because they think they know.
- We should be intentional about increasing women participation in national and community development.
- Mentor a girl close to home or at work.
- Tell the women in your life that you care be kind to one another and speaks words of affirmation to the young girls
- We are the ones who train the boy child. Teach them to be feminists!!
- If you choose to get married, choose the right man. Do not be pressured into marrying just anybody because of the ticking of the biological clock
To conclude, as women, we should not let ourselves be defined by the restrictions that are placed on us but we should find ways to be the movers of the changes we want to see in the way women in our society are treated. Thank you.