Oyinda Bishi – Marketing Professional and D&I advocate
As a strong advocate for women in any sphere of life, I grew up in Nigeria in a family of many brothers – I was very lucky to have a father who was an unashamed feminist that believed people generally should be free to chart their course in life and women especially should be able to decide and undecide what their life should look like and that has fueled my passion and self-belief to no end. Now as a mother of 3 daughters – that grit is amplified a million-fold especially in the world today.
The theme for IWD2020 – Each for Equal embodies how we must celebrate and appreciate our differences (whatever they may be) – as well as the ability to disallow our bias of the said differences to cloud our judgement of one another.
Sadly, the reality is far from this. A recent article by Oxfam reveals that even though women make up 75% of the world’s workforce working two thirds of the global working hours – they only earn 10% of the world’s income. More shockingly;
– Women own less than 1% of the world’s property. – 60% of the world’s chronically hungry are women and girls.
– Two-thirds of all children denied school are girls, and 75 per cent of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women.
– Women hold only 21 per cent of the world’s parliamentary seats, and only 8 percent of the world’s cabinet ministers are women.
– Only 46 countries have met the UN target of 30 percent female decision-makers.
In my opinion, charity begins at home, little girls need to grow up in an environment that empowers them from a very young age, an environment that imbibes a ‘can do’ mentality. An environment that is devoid of barriers or stereotypical gender roles. We all know that ‘children can only aspire to what they know exists’ so the presence of female role models is key. Women leading organisations, in male dominated careers, having successful careers whilst raising their family and many more scenarios are needed to reinforce this messaging.
Also, with recent studies showing that it would take 100 years for gender parity to be achieved globally – we need to turn the spotlight on companies of every size. Companies have to be intentional about effecting changes within their talent pipeline – recruiting more women, training and developing women via specific programmes and having a more robust and gender balanced succession planning strategy. Companies must realise that achieving gender equality is a commitment and not a game of numbers or tokenism.
The government also has a role to play as I believe all hands have to be on deck to achieve this goal. In the UK, The Equality Act 2010(Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 requires all private and public organisations with 250 employees or more to publish data on their gender pay gap with the first reports shared in 2018. This is an example of holding companies accountable and confronting them with the realities of their albeit unintentional practices. More countries need to follow suit.
Each for Equal is the theme of IWD 2020 and while it is a laudable step to shine the light on this burning platform, the onus is on all of us – parents, teachers, carers, employers and the government to be relentlessly united in achieving equality for all in every sphere of life.
Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Anna Collard, Founder Popcorn Training – A KnowBe4 Company
Africa Day 2020: It’s my African dream- that time for Africa and Africans has finally come
The Africa Day has been annually celebrated on the continent and by African communities in other parts of the world since 1963. It is a commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity – now known as the African Union- and a tribute to the achievements made by African leaders over 50 years ago to decolonize the continent and pave the way for a greater Africa .
The main objective of the 30 nations who met on that day of may 25th in Ethiopia, Under the leadership of the Pan-African President Kwame Nkrumah, was to unite Africa and identify post-independence socio-economic development concerns which were plaguing the continent.
Since then, a lot has been made politically, socially and economically to grow Africa. And there is still a lot to be done because, despite being blessed with a rich bounty of natural resources (the continent holds around 30% of the world’s known mineral reserves, including cobalt, uranium, diamonds and gold, as well as significant oil and gas reserves), it has fertile soils that produces cocoa, coffee and tea, Africa is still one of the poorest land on earth with almost 50% of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.
So, why is it that a continent with such vast potential wealth can remain so poor? Why do we see so many Africans looking for survival means outside of their home country? why do we still see thousand of people so desperate to quit Africa that they are ready to draw in the waters? Why, 56 years after the Africa Union was formed, the situation of the continent is still looking so terrible?
“The black continent”
My whole life, I’ve heard people -including Africans- talking about Africa as “the black continent”. Not because of the skin of the people living there but because of the multiple challenges we face .
Poverty, over-dependence on international aid, weak governance and lack of true leadership, endless wars and conflicts, lack of international intelligence, huge dependence to western countries, etc…all these factors are painted in such a negative way by the medias and other analysts that even African themselves tend to forget where the Truth is and develop, together with the international readers and visioners an Africaphobia or a sense of mercy that doesn’t play in favor of the attractivity of the continent. I am not saying everything is false, I am just thinking everything is not that hopeless.
With Africa always being held in bad light, very few of its positive aspects are ever allowed to come to the forefront. I remember when I shared my enthusiasm of returning to the continent, many people not understanding my willingness to leave my comfort zone in France to go back to this terrible place in the world. I’m not even sure they realized how weird their comments were so these biases become unconscious.
These stereotypes sometimes give a wrong perception of what Africa really is and what Africans really are.
No, Africa is not a country. It’s the second largest continent in the world made of 54 countries with many different cultures, traditions, and ethnic groups. No, Africa is not all jungle ; the Sahara Desert makes up one-third of the continent. No, not all African embrace Voodoo or black magic, not all Africans are polygamous, all African men are not inattentive to their child, all business leaders are corrupt … and yes, Africa has bookstores!
I know every country, every culture has its own stereotype and biases but I thought interesting to demystify at least few of them, although King Hassan II said one shouldn’t “waste time putting forward arguments in good faith in the face of people of bad faith”.
Some of these stereotypes are sometimes true. Yes, Africa is still facing several challenges as it struggles to free itself from poverty, including weak healthcare and education systems. Yes, Africa has the youngest population in the globe and a chronic unemployment that makes the task our continent faces even more challenging. Yes, Africa is struggling against internal conflicts… But as the McKinsey & Company studies published in Nov 2018 says, ” Africa is ready for an economic boom similar to that of Asia” .
If Africa handles its proper new opportunities wisely, this time, finally, may be the time of African themselves.
The Africa dream is real!
With its population expected to double by 2050 (by 2025, the UN predicts that there will be more Africans than Chinese people) and its $5.6 trillion dollars in projected consumer and business spending by 2025, with its 400 companies at annual revenues of $1B or more, with its 89 cities of over 1 million inhabitants by 2030 and the potential growth in manufacturing output by 2025, with 122M active users of Financial mobile services, 11M square miles of land-three times that of Europe, the continent is becoming more and more important for investors.
And hopefully the African population itself. These flourishing numbers certainly explain the reason why there has been much talk of an African renaissance in recent years. Europe, Americas and Asia, governments and businesses from all around the world are all fighting to increase their influence in the continent and take advantage of its massive opportunities.
…but unless the business in Africa is beneficial to all parties, it can’t be sustainable and it will not eradicate poverty.
Africa is hungry not because there is no food. Nor because it’s poor. It is just that those who need the food and money are not getting it because, one way or the other, those who have the power and the means have not cared enough to do something about it.
Acemoglu and Robinson assert in their book Why Nations Fail’ that the major difference between developed countries and developing countries is in their political evolution. Developed countries have political and economic systems that are inclusive and offer opportunities for most people to create wealth.
Still, statistics says 80% of the global wealth is controlled by 10% of the worldwide population. If those involved in driving the economic engine are not more inclusive, independently of their community, nation, religion or race (and even gender), if they are not ready to drive the economic engine in a fair way that will lead to including every human being, it is the whole humanity which will finally suffer from it.
As an example, providing good health care and qualitative education for the disadvantaged populations is not charity. It is an investment that creates quality human resources and expands markets, furthering the reach and scope of the economic engine. Leaving over 50% of the population out of an active involvement in the economic process does not make good business sense.
Often, the engagement of Africa with the rest of the world has been positive. New infrastructures are built, new factories, new companies flying in and out… but the results over decades shows it’s still not enough, what is needed now is true economic empowerment. and it goes with solid leadership.
African Union’s 2063 Agenda, “is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the short, medium and long term, so as to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years.”
Education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment can help Africa thrive in the next 50 years. They have been ignored for too long now. And today, more than ever, we have the necessary resources, capabilities and technology to fix almost all the problems in the continent, provided we finally unite our 54 strengths. Whether we want to do it or not simply depends on how inclusive our economy becomes, and how courageous, visionary and focused on inclusive long term goals, our leaders are .
It’s my African dream: that time for Africa and Africans has finally come.
Article By: Elisabeth Moreno, Vice President and Managing Director HP
With All Due Respect…Grow Up: Open Letter to African Leadership
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.
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?
Visit: Seun Shokunbi
Anna Collard: Finding the optimistic within the pandemic
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.
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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