Traditionally, African women have always been seen as the backbone of society. Everyone expects them to stay in the kitchen and provide meals and clean the house. Although many people all over the world are accepting and even embracing the feminist movement, it is often thought that here in Africa this is not the case. I would like to publicly call out anyone who dares to peddle these false rumours! Women in Africa are leading the world in terms of female political leadership as more and more women take on government roles, as well as in the business and enterprise sectors.
“Women in Africa represent 52% of the total population, contribute approximately 75% of the agricultural work, and are responsible for 60-80% of the food production,”a recent quote by Nomsa Daniels; the executive director of New Faces New Voices an organisation centered on female empowerment. These are cold hard facts about the impact that women are having on the growth of the African continent. Now more than ever it is evident that women on the continent are not conforming to what is expected of them and are doing what they want in the most positive way, they are helping move the continent forward! Additionally in terms of leadership, African women have come a long, a very long way. In July 2012 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected chairperson of the African Union, the first woman to hold the post. Then there are the two female presidents who demand respect and attention simply at the mention of their names. Joyce Banda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf both are proving that female leadership is the best way to go. They both have reconstructed and revolutionized their countries’economies being torchbearers of hope for their citizens. In my personal opinion they are setting an example for all other aspiring female leaders all over the world.
So what makes these African female leaders different from female leaders across the world? Firstly they are changing the status quo. Usually when women come to power or start businesses, they hardly do anything new, as they see it as an achievement all on its own. However, more and more women in Africa are challenging the way things are done and even changing them. Secondly they are paving the way for other ladies to follow in their path. African women are ensuring that when they step out of their influential roles that there is another strong woman to take her place. Lastly and probably most notably is the fact that African women have the strongest barriers to break, this means that they have to fight the hardest to get where they are. For me, this fact alone makes them unique and that much more special.
It would be preposterous and ignorant of me to say that women have completely taken over, because of they haven’t. However, those women who are in leadership roles no matter the sector or area are making a real difference and a positive impact.
Photo credits: Applique Creations, myhero.com,