With high-stakes election seasons in four of WomenStrong’s five countries, students from all over the world share their thoughts about women leaders and women’s leadership in general. This week students from WomenStrong’s Empowerment Clubs in Kenya and an African Leadership Academy girl from Senegal share about inspiring women leaders in the politics in their countries.
Priscilla Oforiwaah, Ghana
Priscilla is a 15-year-old student in Grade 9 at Krobo District Authority Junior High School, outside of Kumasi, Ghana.
Women and girls are unique creatures all over the world. Without us, you and I cannot be on this Earth, because without women, we cannot give birth to us.
Empowering women through education, women get to know their rights. Education will help us educate our kids, give our families balanced diets, and get a good job to bring in income. Beside education, the government needs to pass legislation to make sure women are well represented in political entities. At least 40% of parliamentarians should be women, at least one third of government Ministers should be women, and women’s right organizations should be set up to campaign for the rights of women.
Women should also be given loans to set up micro-businesses, so that they, too, can make an income to supplement their husbands’ incomes and not be solely dependent on them.
Dhan Foundation’s Adolescent Girls’ Groups, Madurai City, India
A few participants in an Adolescent Girls’ Group in Madurai, India, run by WomenStrong Consortium member Dhan Foundation, offered some further thoughts.
A lot of women avoid politics because of a lack of awareness and a lack of education. Also some women prefer other jobs and do not want to participate in politics. But somebody has to take the risk, to lead. I’ll do it because I want to create an environment that encourages women leaders and creates more equality between men and women. I want to prove that women can do anything and in politics, they are equal to men.
Kyei Ampong Lawrencia, Ghana
Kyei is a 13-year-old student in Grade 8 at Sawua District Authority Junior High School, outside of Kumasi, Ghana.
As it is said “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate the nation and the world.” So I will be glad and delighted to have a strong female as a leader.
First and foremost, a leader is a person who leads a group of people, especially the head of a country or an organization. Let’s look back to history, if we can find female leaders. There are many women who took important roles in the Bible as leaders. We can mention Deborah, who lead the Israelites in time of difficulties and was able to help them overcome their enemies. We can also talk about Yaa Asantewaa, who originated from Ejisu in the Asante Region. She helped the Asantes to fight against the British when the men were afraid to fight. This shows that a strong female leader can lead this country better than what the men are doing.
Moreover, we can talk about the sympathetic nature of a female. A female always thinks about the greater majority. The most difficult problem facing my country is the gap between rich and the poor. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. So I would like to have a strong female leader who will help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. We can also talk about corruption, one of the main problems facing Ghana. Most people who are involved are men, so we need strong female leaders who will help to curb this problem.
Lastly, in the olden day,s our great grandmothers were only in the kitchen cooking food and doing home chores, but now no more because of technology. Some female leaders are as follows: Queen Elizabeth (Queen of Great Britain), Joyce Banfo (Speaker of Parliament, during the presidency of Professor J.E. Atta Mills), Professor Naana Jane Opoky Agyemang (Education Minister), Charlotte Osie (Electoral Commission). The benefits of choosing a strong female leader are as follows:
– When a strong female is elected in this country, it will ensure gender equality and remove gender bias.
– It will help them to make use of their talents to the betterment of the country.
– It motivates the young females to go further in their education due to the fact that those will become role models to the youth.
– If they get to a high position, women will help their family, community, and nation.
Moreover, it will improve the talent of leadership skills. If a woman is not elected into power, it will increase corruption, propaganda, etc. in this country. So my wish is that every country have strong female leaders because of these benefits and to avoid corruption and propaganda. So, Ghanaians, let us rise up and develop Mother Ghana with strong females. My dream is to have strong female presidents and leaders to improve this country. Men are killing Ghanaians because of corruption and propaganda, so I want a strong female leader to be elected to improve gender equality and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
Ayishatu Karim, Ghana
Ayishatu is a student at Mfesi District Authority Junior High School in Kumasi, Ghana.
I am Ayishatu Karim, a pupil of Mfesi D/A JHS in the Ashanti Region, and I would like to share my view about the aforementioned topic.
Let us take a glance at our workplaces, schools, and even our dear country as a whole. We will realize that leadership roles played by us females are very few, and are mostly minority roles, which shouldn’t be so. There are many things that, when changed, can create more opportunities for leadership for us women and girls in the society, and for Ghana as a whole.
As a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, I would first like to talk about the formal education system in our country. Gone are the days when the office of the girl child was in the kitchen, going to the farm, getting married and giving birth. Girls’ education was of little or no importance, while boys’ education was considered more valuable. Yes, we can say today that all that is in the past and that things have changed, but I can say that in some remote areas of Ghana, those attitudes and practices still exist. There are still some people in the area who haven’t understood the importance of girl child education and so consider the education of the girl useless.
Our boys are given the necessary equipment and all the needed support to school to reach any heights they can. The serious ones then come out as prominent men, holding key positions in our country. But if an education could reach our dear citizens, especially those in the rural areas, emphasizing mostly the girl child’s education with some prominent females serving as role models, I believe that all those who don’t see the value of girls’ education will see the light, and then our girls would be encouraged and given the support they need to finish school and to become prominent women holding key positions in our country.
Secondly, there are many leadership roles that Ghanaians consider to be for men only. We go to our workplaces today and find out the key positions, such as Branch Managers and others, are held by men. We go to our tertiary institutions, and you mention certain positions, such as Student Representative Council President, and everybody expects a man to stand for that position. Even for our nation, Ghana, if you make mention of the presidency, everyone expects a male to go for that position, which shouldn’t be so. Today in our schools, females are wrestling with their male counterparts to go for top positions, which shouldn’t be so, especially given that more girls are performing extremely well, even better than boys.
In our communities, equal opportunity should be given to both men and women. Our dear people shouldn’t think of certain leadership roles as belonging to men; rather we should stand strongly behind every good and competent woman who stands for leadership roles, knowing that if a man can do the job, women can, as well.
Furthermore, some women fear losing, which prevents them from competing with their male counterparts and from taking up leadership roles. But our dear women should have confidence in themselves and take that fear away. Women being down on themselves is a factor that needs to be changed for them to win leadership opportunities. So many women’s groups and so many seminars have been organized, to help empower women — yet women are not empowered. They lack confidence in themselves, and they are down on themselves.
But women should know that the skill of leadership is a special gift from God. And so we must believe and motivate and tell ourselves that we can make it, and surely we will.
Also it is said that women are their own worst enemies. A woman will stand up for a position, and her fellow women will say things against her, such as that they wouldn’t allow a fellow woman to lead them. A women who even dares to compete with men for the same position is sometimes termed as being disrespectful. but if women stand by and encourage one another, and know that a woman can lead as well as a man, our women will go higher and have greater opportunities for leadership of our dear country.
The world is changing. Now we have many females who have held and are holding leadership roles in our country and in other countries, like Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, our Chief Justice, former president of Argentina María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón, former President Agatha Barbara of Malta, and many others. The world will continue to change, and we females will have many more opportunities when the factors listed above and many others have been addressed.