March 8th marks the International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.
As we celebrate this day, let us think of lifting one another to a higher level. Ask any successful person of their story to success. They will most often tell you it was a bumpy ride. One other common thing they will tell you, is they had people to look up to.
Women have had to grapple with inequalities for a long time due to the glass ceiling effect. This is the term used to describe the unseen, yet unbreakable, barrier that keeps one from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of qualifications or achievements.
In the last decade, more women have been able to break through this glass ceiling. In Kenya, we can see examples of women who have broken barriers and are thriving in careers that were once thought of as masculine. Some of these women are Liz Marami, Kenya’s first marine pilot and Silalei Owour, Kenya women’s basketball captain, who are also brand ambassadors to the Always Stand Up campaign. Judith Owigar is a co-founder of Akirachix, a nonprofit seeking to mentor young women in technology. Careers that the new woman has ventured into, a clear indication that gender should never be a barrier to pursuit of dreams.
A common myth is spoken of though, that women are their worst enemies. My thinking is that society puts labels on anything that they do not fully understand. I believe that every successful woman would love to help another up the ladder of success. It is evidenced by the examples I have mentioned above.
The late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai had an analogy of the hummingbird. You may feel small and insignificant, but do the best you can. The context of course is different from what I am talking about, but is applicable. Whatever way you can help another woman and especially a younger woman, by all means, do it.
For the young women out there, reach out to possible mentors. Ask questions, make good use of networks, because these are sources of great mentor relationships. Let us work together to ensure acceleration of gender parity is achieved. That is why I join the Always Stand Up campaign by standing up to do my best in mentoring young women. What do you stand up for?