Over the years, there has been an extensive debate on why there are only a few women in managerial positions at work places and national governance. This is not limited to Africa or third world countries but the world at large. The percentage of women in parliament to men is grossly minimal. The few who gather enough courage to mount the political podium do not get the support needed to get into parliament. But for the sake of this article I will limit myself to Africa, zooming in on Ghana.
This is a very worrying trend because women make the majority of most countries in Africa. According to the 2011 data from the parliamentary union, women occupy 19.4% of parliamentary seats in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is slightly higher than the world average of 19.3%.
Various reasons have been given by women activist and non-activist groups at large for the lack of ‘enough’ women in the political scene. The challenges of women aspiring for political office are far greater.
The high illiteracy level especially in the rural settings is one of the hurdles that make it difficult for young women to convince voters. Additionally, financial constraints for campaigns worsened by the high level of voter bribery and a culture of women’s political exclusion also contribute to making it difficult for young women to vie for office.
As much as the above reasons are valid and make it difficult for women to penetrate the political arena, what about climbing the ladder to the top at work places? How many women are CEO’s of institutions and multi-national companies in Africa?
What excuse do we have as women in this area of growth and development? Why are most women found occupying ‘low grade’ positions at work?
A lot of smart and interesting ‘EXCUSES’ have been given for this social canker as I so wish to call it. Reasons that make a lot of sense, but in my opinion make it easy for women to go back and slumber. The real reasons are what I want to talk about in this piece.
For me, the fact that there are not enough women in positions of power in Ghana to serve as role model is a major factor.
Truth as this assertion is, I think the real reasons are;
1. Sexual politics
2. Women undermining other women
3. Women afraid to ask for what they want
4. Women spend 90% of their time looking for the latest fashion trends and 10% to personal growth and development
5. Too much time spent bickering
As simple and as straight forward as the above reasons are, most intellectuals will write them off as unscientific and shallow. But they are very true which every woman knows—I believe.
How can we have a high representation of women when most of us are busy picking cloths, changing our wardrobes or planning weddings? How can we excel when we are too busy complaining bitterly and sulk over a comment someone made at the office about our hairstyle three days ago?
In the African society the few women who have managed to get to the top or close to the top are given tag as ‘iron lady’ ‘Margaret thatcher’ or as some folks in Ghana put it ‘obaadenden’. This tends to discourage the few women who aspire to such high positions rather than encouraging them.
My dear ladies, by all means let us be interested in how we look, it is important but it should not take prime importance in our lives. Some things are equally if not more important.
Men have an image to maintain too but they find time to climb higher. There must be a balance. Marriage and kids are important, but when your kids have a mum who has the ability to manage a home while working on her dreams, they will not have to go out there looking for a mentor—one will be right at home for them. And yes you can be a good mum, wife as well as a manager a company.
We have no excuse not to excel as women. There are not many women as mentors (role models) but if the few women had folded their arms in-between their legs because there were few or no women mentors in their time would they have gotten to the top?
Let’s pick the cloths and make-up but let show them off at the office and in parliament. Your wardrobe should not just be made up of 6inches and party dresses, class it up! And when someone calls you Margaret Thatcher or iron lady? Smile and thank them for noticing.