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Bukola Bankole: Thoughts on IWD 2020 – Each For Equal

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Bukola Bankole Partner, TNP

International Women’s Day is a day of reflection and celebration of everything we’ve achieved especially over the past century. This year’s theme #EachForEqual is about equality. There has been an uprising in recent times about the need for constructive inclusiveness of women in all aspects of human life.

What does this really mean? – it means eradicating all forms of double standard against women, putting an end to marginalization for no reason other than gender. Women around the world have exhibited what would happen if the standards are as favorable to us as it has always been for the men folk!

I’m a firm believer that our collective wisdom and strength has the power to transform every aspect of suffering in the world. The theme #EachForEqual, is drawn from the idea of “collective individualism”. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindset have an impact on our larger society and collectively, we can take away the gender stigmatization, change the narrative and create a gender equal world. Because, an equal world is an enabled world.

Let’s not forget, equality in so many ways must start with respect. So, I want to see a world where women are championed, a world where we celebrate women and girls just as much as we celebrate men and boys, where we are given the same opportunities, a world where men celebrate our achievements, our triumphs and our successes.

This, is the agenda. It’s in pushing for gender equality in the boardroom, in government, in the media, at the workplace, in investments, in health and even more in wealth. Equality is everyone’s business, each one of us has an important role to play in making this a reality. It remains our duty as a modern society to respect one another and to foster a culture in which each individual is respected and supported to thrive, regardless of gender.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

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With All Due Respect…Grow Up: Open Letter to African Leadership

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Article By: Seun Shokunbi

There’s an old parenting adage that says if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?

As much as my 12-year-old self cringed when I heard it, my now 30-something year-old self has to admit that my mom was right. You don’t need to copy everything your friends or peers do or tell you to do.

African leaders would be wise to take this same advice. Amid this COVID-19 crisis, many new buzzwords abound like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing”. It’s no question that we all need to take actions to reduce if not prevent the peak of the virus’ spread, but quick research will tell you that social distancing (used usually to describe isolating in one’s home indefinitely) is not the one and only method for achieving this.

Evidence from South Korea proves the point. Yet most African nations decided to mimic Europe and the U.S. by mandating citizens to stay at home and close all non-essential businesses to contain the contagious disease.

Now I’ve never been president of a country, and the extent of my public health service ends at coughing into my elbow. But that’s what makes this more frightening — that a basic person like me can immediately see the problem here. One of the basic qualities missing in African leadership is the instinct to make data-driven decisions.

We have a habit of watching what the “cool kids” are doing (i.e. the West) and just copying exactly what they do. We pay no attention to context or to designing solutions that work in our best interest. It’s like we’re trying so hard to impress, hoping the West is flattered more by our imitation rather than our efficacy.

I was triggered to write this by an op-ed published recently by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the latest adoptee of the Western powers-that-be who look for a poster child to represent their ideal Africa. I don’t hold any bad feelings towards Ahmed. However, I got uncomfortable reading his piece for a couple of reasons.

The first had to do with tone. Frankly, I’m tired of us playing to this notion of African countries being helpless unless the mightier “developed” countries pity us. Ahmed wrote, “African countries…lack the wherewithal to make similarly meaningful interventions” mitigating the consequences of the coronavirus spread, and that “the G20 must provide collective leadership” as one of the most pressing solutions to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the G20 consists majorly of Eurocentric nations (including U.S., UK, and Germany) and just one African country (South Africa), an anomalous representative of the continent for reasons not beneficial in situations like this.

Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

It worries me that prominent leaders or Nobel laureates would make the rookie mistake of discussing Africa as a monolith, rather than 54 independent states with nuanced environments. The way a pandemic hits South Africa will be very different from the damage it does in the Central African Republic.

So if the Prime Minister is suggesting that South Africa be the mouthpiece

for the continent at the metaphorical cool kids’ table (i.e the G20), that suggestion is myopic in that the one country cannot comprehensively speak on a strategy that best prepares all of Africa for this type of public health/economic disruption.

And if he’s suggesting that the G20 as a whole be the global mouthpiece for how to prep for situations like this, he’s jumping off the bridge with friends, just because they say so.

Recommendations like the one from the Prime Minister jump the gun, bypassing the most pressing first ask anyone should really make: what can African leaders do for themselves with what they have NOW?

We can admit that, historically, the Western world is the lead culprit for putting African nations in a vulnerable position financially and politically. TLDR, watch this great documentary on that issue.

But that does not absolve the faults of African leaders.

By faults, I’m not just referring to that deference African leaders show to the West or African leaders’ inexcusable mistreatment of their citizens. Those aside, logic would suggest that the developed world would see how neglecting public health strategies in African nations would eventually have an impact on them, given the growth of globalized trade and travel.

How many times has the West proven that common sense isn’t so common? We have undeniable evidence in the way the United States (now the epicenter of COVID-19) wasn’t prepared to prevent or manage the stress of a deadly contagion on its healthcare system.

So when the cool kids are busy getting themselves out of trouble, what do we (Africa) do? Twiddle our thumbs, or use our own brains to self-regulate?

It’s fair to continue demanding relief from what essentially equates to predatory loan agreements keeping African countries crippled with debt. But until that utopian moment when the West stops asking us for our lunch money, African heads of state need to examine their own insecurities and, frankly, find the maturity to hold themselves accountable for what they know needs to be done.

For example, South Africa has had an ongoing debate about providing universal healthcare to its 57 million population for 13 years. The biggest concern? Not how much it will cost, or where the funding will come. It’s whether South Africa’s leadership has the self-control to not pocket the funds for themselves as they did with the country’s National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Here’s another wise quote, taken from India’s assassinated prime minister Indira Gandhi:

“Beware of ministers who can do nothing without money, and those who want to do everything with money.”

I’m not naive to think that Africa doesn’t have a SERIOUS cash problem created by colonialism. But I’m wary of those who keep trying to guilt-trip the West into charity. Especially when they refuse to ask why Africa hasn’t learned how to walk on its own two feet.

What do you think?

I’m thinking of starting a business of my own that solves this problem.

I feel the same way — tired of lower standards that keep Africans at risk economically.

I don’t think you’re seeing the full picture, and I have a different point of view.

Article By: Seun Shokunbi Principal Consultant Karfi

Visit: Seun Shokunbi

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Africa speaks

Anna Collard: Finding the optimistic within the pandemic

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Anna Collard, CEO, Popcorn Training, a subsidiary of KnowBe4

The coronavirus pandemic has hit society, business and education at a speed that few could predict, and shaken foundations in ways that none could have anticipated. In the news, only a few items escape Covid-19 in the title. On social media it’s memes and fears about the virus. It’s hard for people to remain upbeat in the face of lockdowns, limited social contact and complex working conditions. Or is it?

“Whatever you focus the most on, that’s what you will get more of,” says Anna Collard, CEO, Popcorn Training, a subsidiary of KnowBe4. “Even before coronavirus there was enough bad news online and on social media to make most people want to sit in a dark room. At this time, when the entire world is shifting on its axis, it has never been more important to focus on the positive and the ways in which this change can benefit us.”

The digital lifestyle

Yes, digital working from home has been thrust upon us, but what stands out in the midst of all the bad news is how most companies could do just that – send their employees home. It highlights the true value of the internet and the IT teams that are working to make it happen and the potential that the digital lifestyle could offer South Africa in the future. From e-learning to working from home to building new businesses that will shine in the post-covid-19 era, society is rapidly advancing to becoming completely digital in an incredibly short period of time.

This digital evolution has also made a huge difference to people who are locked in alone or who crave human contact. Apps are bringing people together in new ways and giving people the chance to reconnect when times are tough. These same apps are being used in virtual conferencing and meetings so that teams can connect and businesses can keep moving into an uncertain future.

The wealth of information

There is immense value in information and coronavirus has brought that to millions of people who are now more aware about hand hygiene and health. This has meant that these people know more about washing their hands, distancing themselves from ill people and minimising the spread of disease than ever before. This will not only help in slowing the spread of coronavirus but the spread of other diseases today and in the future.

The security factor

Organisations are more aware of security than ever before because their employees are working from home and opening up new avenues of risk. This is the perfect time to secure Wi-Fi routers, train people to learn more about phishing and scams, and to protect people from fraud. Companies are investing more into security controls and training to help protect both their assets and their employees. KnowBe4 have created a lot of free content helping companies secure their home workers by making them more aware of the cyber threats and how to stay safe while working from home.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Anna Collard, Founder Popcorn Training – A KnowBe4 Company

Harnessing creativity

A moment of stillness. An hour of boredom. While this may not be possible for those with families, these moments are invaluable when it comes to igniting creativity and innovative thought. This lockdown could inspire people to come up with new ideas and new businesses, give entrepreneurs the time they need to reshape their ideas, and result in unexpected disruption in unexpected spaces across the world. Creative solutions are definitely needed right now and this time of enforced solitude and thinking is an opportunity for people to find them.

Appreciation and empathy

In Cape Town a restaurant owner shut her doors firmly, more worried about those with HIV than her bottom line. In Johannesburg, the owner of a car repair shop spent his weekend buying supplies for the old age home about to enter lockdown so that the residents didn’t risk their health. Empathy is changing the way people engage with one another while appreciation of the little things and these moments are allowing us to see what’s really important.

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Africa speaks

Cynthia M. Wright: Thoughts on IWD 2020 – Each for Equal

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Cynthia Musafili Wright

Leading with inordinate authenticity as a substitute for the adoption of personalities basing on other’s expectations might crack more governance potentiality in women and, at the same time, hasten their influences within their respective organizations, according to the United Nations. If women are not authentic in society and at the same time are not recognized, appreciated, and respected,most would want to do what is required of them to perform and succeed in most departments.

Additionally, in case the political/ competitive societal behavior is harmful, women might be forced to be something that they are not leading to gender mainstream issues. Hence, women might feel unworthy and unsustainable to do what they have to do for authentic leadership. Men, on the other hand, when asked to comment about their level of authenticity, might assert that being authentic is not a perfect ideal or acceptable in the society/ workplace.

In the contemporary out weighed male society, women have struggled to be authentic. Women have to conform to the societal principles and femininity to fit into society without seeming masculine. The discord of upholding such a sweet spot is hard and more draining for women. Women can, therefore, flourish in a male subjugated culture. However, it comes with enormous emotional and psychological costs. Women must nurture a compelling, authentic, and feminine societal presence.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

In simpler terms, women must focus on their strengths if they want to cultivate authentic leadership and not copy what men do to make their presence seen. Authentic leadership,powered by a commanding purpose,assists other leaders (men and women) in inspiring others. Both men and women can display dominant and authentic leadership ideologies. The promotion of feminine authentic leadership doctrines must not be regarded as a male-female issue. It is all about whether society overlooks certain physiognomies vital in navigating global and

communal/ societal challenges. Highly authentic leaders can also articulate their life choices, for instance, work-life balance, bearing children, freeing oneself out of bad situations, managing their careers, and setting their financial goals. When women can effectively manage these life goals, authentic leadership qualities often emanate among them. Highly authentic women leaders determinedly design their personal lives according to their top-most life precedence.

“If they can’t lift you. They can’t drop you. Step into your power” (The Purposeful Leader – 10 Steps to Becoming the Leader You are Born to Be – On Amazon) There are four significant strategies women can apply to lead authentically. Women must increase their self-awareness. Increasing self-awareness is one vital component of acting authentically. It also makes women acceptable and trusted with leadership positions. Once women know their strengths and values, they must adequately assess and also evaluate themselves and pinpoint what is best for them.

After evaluating themselves, women must take action, starting with smaller steps and slowly integrate the values that align with their values and behaviours. Getting support from men helps in personal development among women and the promotion of gender equality in society. Developing authentic leadership qualities requires risks and women having faith in their judgments. When in power, women must also avoid acting like men as it makes them lose their authenticity. Trusting in their talents and abilities is what makes women authentic leaders.

Women must not be overjoyed by the powers granted to them while in leadership positions. They must make judgments and act beyond the societal stereotypes to pave the way for other young leaders after them to see them as authentic leaders. They can do this by creating gender equality programs to help upcoming women leaders know their worth in the society.Women in leadership positions must also have a personal social responsibility to create and motivate other leaders. They must immediately start capitalizing on their instant successors so that we can create a ripple effect.

Leadership must be quantifiable, and one effective way to do so is the creation of a more authentic leader. They also need to exhibit the qualities that made earn those positions. That is what makes gender equality in leadership more sustainable.

Article By: Cynthia Musafili Wright, A speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Aged Care Clinical Consultant and Philanthropist.

Visit: Cynthia Musafili Wright

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