Woman Misguided – Plagued by our PHDs
It’s the 21st century and yet women still find themselves in minority roles, especially in the board room. Moreover, there is still an attitude of competitiveness and marked territory with the few women that have managed to work their way into the boardroom. Is it because there are so few spots around the boardroom table that it ends up causing women to fight against each other and eventually pull each other down?
Having recently read a rather insightful Facebook post written by my lovely sister and friend, Nomalungelo Dladla (Noma), I found myself applauding what she had to say and felt inspired to say my piece as well. In Noma’s post, she mentions how we, as women, cannot seem to love and embrace each other. Instead, we are plagued by the “Pull Her Down” syndrome (PHD) that enables us to hate on each other’s achievements and want to constantly pull each other down – celebrating the next woman’s misfortunes.
However, this competitive/survival urge doesn’t just show up in boardrooms. Television shows such as the Real Housewives of Atlanta (or Beverly Hills or New York etc.…), Wives & Girlfriends – of athletes (WAGS) and Basketball Wives create some sort of catalyst for such behaviour. You get a bunch of beautiful women who claim to be “sisters” but they hate each other’s guts. So much so that they end up having physical fights and pulling each other’s weaves out over tiny matters. Which, mind you, could’ve been settled over a decent conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the above-mentioned shows. While they continue to smack the living daylights out of each other, I sit there and watch with wide eyes waiting for the next scandal to surface.
How come we don’t get shows with men beating each other up? Is it a cause for concern?
Perhaps it also stems from the fact that us woman tend to pride ourselves in being “wives and girlfriends” or “housewives”. Although being a proud housewife is a wonderful thing, why do we have to centre our entire existence into merely being known as the “wife or girlfriend of so and so”?
One can’t help but ask themselves why such behaviour is even allowed. Could it be possibly because women have been socialised in a ‘Westernized manner’ that we need to compete for various titles? I say ‘Westernized’ because for centuries, in various African disciplines, women are taught to collaborate and form a sisterhood in their openly polygamous marriages. Yet nowadays, women fight for the same guy and plot against one another failing to realize that with a collaborative spirit, they can, in fact, form a team and plot against the cheating partner… TOGETHER.
Establishments such as We Lead offer a peer-to-peer network exclusively for women leaders. Each month young women meet to share ideas, brainstorm, coach and generally help each other leverage their true leadership potential and achieve their goals with the benefit of the collaborative insight and network of a powerful, brilliant mastermind of women leaders. They also have some of their members take girl-children under their wing to mentor and create future leaders out of them.
I strongly believe in the power of woman-to-woman mentorship. In my case, I was fortunate enough to find myself under the wing of my boss and mentor, Mimi Kalinda. From being the first African woman host on MTV in 2000 in London, to being the Rebranding Africa Champion for Africa 2.0 and Author of Talking to Africa, Mimi saw potential in me and decided to nurture and build it to become as great as she is. She is my own personal cheerleader and she believes in taking on the African young woman and teaching them as much as possible in terms of PR and communications, then setting them free to conquer the world.
Samkelisiwe Jiyana, founder of Izwilam (Which means “My voice” in isiZulu) Mentoring Program is another case of a sister reaching out her hand to help other sisters. Sam and her organization go around South Africa and host motivational talks to girls in high school, giving them hope and reassuring them that they are perfect. They also collect sanitary towels via donations and distribute them to school girls in rural and other disadvantaged areas.
Now THAT, in my books, is honestly award-winning selflessness. The kind of selflessness that we need more of to create a sturdy sisterly bond that will be a force to be reckoned with.
We need more Mimi’s and Sam’s out there that will teach the girl-child that we, as women, are not in competition and there’s no need to pull each other down. Instead, we need to pull together and applaud each other while we progress in this journey called life.
Noma’s final words were: “Honestly, We women need to look into how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves.”
African women, when will you realise your potential and the power that you possess to form a change when you stand back-to-back and bind together like a chain?
… Truth is, that change, my sister, begins with you and me.
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT BELIEVE IN POLYGAMY
By: Lasi Mashaba
Account Executive at Africommunications Group Ltd. (ACG).