This summer’s #AfricaPowerPlayers, “Women’s Transformational Leadership in a Fast Changing World,” panel focused on the importance of investing in African women by providing them equal opportunities. In two separate panels, female entrepreneurs from the diaspora talked about empowering women financially to help fight gender inequality. They offered success tips and shared with the audience just some of the the daily micro-aggressions and discrimination they face and the difficult choices they made in their personal lives to be successful.
“As a woman, you were supposed to be seen not heard” — Lepang Ferguson
In many countries in Africa, women struggle against cultural barriers that prevent them from accessing the same opportunities as men. These barriers can make it difficult for young women to get an education, join the professional workforce or start their own businesses.
She said, “as a woman, you were supposed to be seen, not heard” but with the help of a supportive father, she said she was able to overcome many of the difficulties faced by women in her country.
The founder and CEO of Shea Yeleen, Rahama Wright (@rahamatuwright), said she thinks the first step to empowering women is to redefine the way societies see women. She recounted some of her experiences as a business owner and how others saw her as less of a woman for being as she said, “very business like, not very emotional, and aggressive.”
Because of these encounters, Wright said she decided there is a need for a change to the way society defines gender roles in the business world. She said she began developing her ‘5 Steps to Success’ as a way to empower other women with what she learned from her experiences.
Rahama’s 5 steps to achieving success:
1) Invest in building the right network
2) Change your beliefs about failure
3) Don’t worry about fitting in
4) Push beyond your comfort zone
5) Take responsibility for your vision
Christine St Vil (@momsncharge) is the founder and CEO of Moms ‘N Charge, a company helping women manage their business and family life. The mother of three said she wanted to show women they could be entrepreneurs while also being mothers. The Moms ‘N Charge website offers tips and tools to help women pursue their business dreams while still having a primary role in the lives of their children.
All the women on the panel who said they had to overcome many challenges to achieve their goals all said they agreed on one thing, when pursuing your dreams, it’s only by being persistent and not giving up in the face of adversity that you will achieve success.
The ‘POWER PLAYER: “WOMEN’S TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN A FAST-CHANGING CONTINENT” forum is a component of “Celebrate Africa 3.0”, the women’s leadership forum. It’s stated goals are to:
(1) Bring together decisions makers, entrepreneurs, development experts, foreign policy wonks, academics, community activists, artists, from Africa and the United States, to reflect on the roles women play in Africa and how their dreams, passions, energies and leadership skills should be best harnessed to power Africa into a brighter, more prosperous, peaceful future in a more decisive manner, beneficial for all and inclusive of all — the women, the youth, the men, and the institutions.
(2) Create an environment that will foster an exchange of ideas and strategies to enhance women’s involvement in ongoing changes at each level of society.
(3) Provide a space for attendees to network with each other both socially and professionally and develop opportunities for mutual support and collaboration.
(4) Showcase the power of the African women and how it can be of benefit on the African continent and in the Diaspora.
You can learn more at, http://sautizuri.com/power-players