It is recent news that the cabinet of the newly appointed Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), now consists of 50 percent women. Now this is what I call the empowerment of women. Leadership that makes sure that women are given the opportunity to show what they got and shine. As we know it, society has not traditionally been very kind to women. Society has generally seen the role of women as mainly being that of a dutiful wife and mother. Women who are unmarried and childless are generally perceived as unhappy and depressed individuals no matter how successful they are in their careers.
Although society has defined and restricted the extent to which women should go in their professional lives, I believe that many women themselves have come to the point of accepting society’s points of views. Most women, once having married and given birth to children, tend to focus more on household duties than on their careers. No matter the woman’s level of education and level of earnings, the husband and the rest of the society strongly believe that it is mainly the woman’s role to make sure that the house is well kept, the children are well fed and the husband is well taken care of. This mentality is so entrenched in society (and especially in developing countries such as ours) that many women have come to willingly accept this role and trade-off their careers for the role of a devoted wife and mother.
So I believe there is a demand and supply factor for the limited role of women in leadership. On the supply side, society does not give to women enough opportunity to assume leadership positions. On the demand side, women themselves do not ask enough for leadership positions in society. It takes a certain level of commitment, endurance, strength, courage and drive for a women to be able to demand her right for a certain leadership position or any career advancement for that matter. These type of women, through hard work and perseverance, can be able to demonstrate their capacity for leadership and convince society that they are as or even more worthy and well-deserving of a leadership position than their male counterparts. But these women are rare, at least in the context of a country like ours. These women are born with a character of a fighter and don’t easily succumb to society’s pressures. These women are winners. They do not need any affirmative action to bring them into light and show what they can offer to the world. They can do it all by themselves.
Unfortunately, in my view, many of us women in this country need a supporting hand to push us through the ladder of success and leadership positions. Many of us are the kind who wait for society to give us the opportunity to advance in our careers and make something out of our professional lives. In a world dominated by men, we need men leaders to discover us, understand our value and give us the opportunity to become more than a wife and a mother. Many of us need affirmative actions to see the light of success. Although we know in our hearts that we have the potential to be as and even more successful than our male colleagues, we often do not dare cross that line that society has traced for us and fight for that prized position. So that is why we need more leaders like our prime minister who value the unexploited potentials of women and hand them the tools and the keys to unlock their capabilities that have long remained unknown to the world!