Three Menlikish, over 120 women and men, one event!

AWiB hosted the monthly session on ‘Men Who Support Women’ on April 2, 2015 at the Hilton Addis. It started off with a networking session as usual at 5:30PM.  Women from different walks of life attended this event as this theme didn’t require particular profession but a balance of life, work and family.   

Daniel Kibret, an author, theologian and a great personality was one of the three to start the session with his amazing short story about the role of women both at home and work.  Daniel tells stories with humour and the seriousness that enlightening the audience from different perspectives requires. Motherhood, wifehood, and her domestic and professional dynamism were reflected in the story that was exclusively written for this particular event. The moral of the story was about how we don’t raise a boy to be a better husband but rather to be a better son. 

The wife in the story tells her family that she prefers to have a deputy at work as most are done by others but just follow up is done by her as a manager.  At home, she is the wife, the mother, administrator in the house and a tutor to her kids. All these roles make her active. He shared the story of how Emperor Menilik empowered Taitu, how Mentiwab played a significant role in the life of Emperor Tewodros.  But they didn’t do it with the intention of empowering their women but rather for the respect Daniel noted.  

The next speaker was Tewodros Tadesse, the husband of Dr. Lia Tadesse who was a former CEO of Saint Paul hospital.  She was also one of the finalists on AWiB Women of Excellence 2014. Now married for 11 years with 2 kids — a boy and a girl, they dated for 4 years before they decided to tie the knot.

He said he never thought of asking himself if he has been a supportive husband or not until he was asked to make this presentation.  But it was a million dollar question as he really had to get it from her.  So he did ask her:  ‘Do I support you?’ And that’s when he said he got an affirmative response from his wife.  Before that, support for him was to take care of the kids, do the shopping, bathe the kids and making sure the house chores are handled. But he got a wakeup call one day by which his wife sat him and conveyed that all that he is doing is making her feel alienated as taking care of all in the family is the source of energy for her.  That was the shock and yet again he realized all that he is doing is fulfilling his responsibility rather than helping or supporting her.  He said ‘the kids are mine too, and the house as well.  And if I can’t do that who else could? This was unanimously supported by the audience with a round applause as this is not the mentality of many men when it comes to domestic work. 

He is currently leading a well known leadership institute called “Centre for Leadership in Africa” based here in Addis. Being supportive comes in forms of Love and Respect said Tewodros.  Dedicating the time to sit and talk about work and life, really helped him understand the passion that his wife has for her job. That really helps him understand her better and be supportive in different forms.  

Marriage is an institution where by the husband will learn from his wife and the wife will learn from the husband.  He also said he learned from his wife about the health sector policies and his knowledge of leadership grew through the constant discussions that they often have informally. Tewodros said that by influencing each other they share each other’s passion.

I see my wife as an understanding human being rather than a woman; a person with passion for her profession and a woman whose passion is service as a call of life. That is how he described his wife in simple language.  Respect goes a long way he says. It’s not just respect for what she believes in but also for what she values as well says Tewodros. He respects her dedication for her profession and he also tries not to get in the way. To sum it up, Tewodros believes love and respect strengthens their marriage. 

Our third speaker was Yohannes Tilahun. Raised in the United States, he moved back to Addis after years of experience at Wall Street and now is working for the Ethiopian Government. He felt like he missed his country and decided to move back wanting to contribute to his Nation.

He focused his speech on how to be a successful person in life and a great leader, both in our marriage or partnership and in our professional world.  “We tend to be successful in our relationship, when we work on our personal development…  

He believes that there should be more women in leadership but there are less of them. His suggestion to being a leader:

  1. Take public speaking classes such as toast masters. 
  2. Know what you want.
  3. Commit to winning (persistence).  He pointed the case of the formula one where the first winner gets an award of 1.2 million dollars and the 2nd gets 230,000.00 dollars. The difference between the 1st and the 2nd is one second. 
  4. Be courageous.  Until you learn to take risk you will never succeed in life.  Risk comes with responsibilities. 
  5. Multitask. Many leaders can make decisions while making some other things. 
  6. Be good at getting results. Your life should be better than last year. 
  7. Be able to inspire others. Perhaps a better wife, a better mother, a better manager and /or a better employee. 
  8. Find a role model to look up to. Ethiopia has many role models in leadership to put it in our own context. 

Yohannes said if we can make one extra degree of effort every day, we can make a difference in our life.  It can be in service or as simple as not saying anything behind someone’s back, what you wouldn’t say to their face.  Having a better attitude, being kind to total strangers, and believing in oneself are the things that one needs to stay focused, better oneself and become an inspiring leader.  

Yohannes says people fail for two reasons: lack of discipline and lack of persistence.  He shared the story of the first billionaire where the land he bought was dug by the previous owner for 2 years and he only needed to get to the oil in just about 3 feet in 3 days.  Failure he says may be 3 feet away from success.  

When asked how we women can be a better wife or partner, Yohannes said my wife is the best person to tell my problems to.  He said “we discuss a lot and as women have the tendency to see problems from 10 feet away, she always sees before me and I value that in her”.  He noted that men usually don’t notice till it gets to our nose.  

Tewodros says there is no household that can sustain on its own if there is competition amongst partners.  There can never be a team within a competitive group.  If the wife or husband is to be supportive, she or he should have a transparent communication.  Collaboration is the best ingredient for a marriage that withstands all the challenges.

Daniel explained this particular question of how to be a better partner– by having an understanding of each other rather than the notion of simply supporting each other.  He says support comes in different forms, from neighbors and colleagues.  But he says understanding each other’s desire and mission in life is the most important factor for having a better relationship with your partner.  He shared his own experience whereby he is always away from home for business and at times for considerably longer period and the same goes for his wife.  But it is with the genuine understanding between them both that they have sustained a marriage of several years.  

Daniel has recommended a book titled “Why Women Have Too Many Shoes and Men Have No Clue”. He said for women it is like breathing to start a conversation even when they met for the first time.  But for men, they can sit on the same table and not say a single word for 30 minutes or more.  He related this personality with our ancestors.  Women have always been at home doing 6 things at one time while men have always been assigned and trained to hunt in the forest or the fields.  What they have learned in the process is to focus.  That focusing has been inherited to date and that explains why men are men and why women are women. 

The most difficult question asked from the audience was for the panelist to define ‘Man’. As the old rabbi says the most difficult questions don’t have to be answered. Tewodros actually suggested that we at AWiB should create a platform for this type of issue as it is a mind blowing and exploring case. Daniel expressed his views on the same question by saying ” man is a man that is a woman and woman is a woman that is a man. The problem arises when this is lost or when it’s “not in balance”. 

In conclusion, we would like to share what Yohannes has quoted during this session.  “Many of life’s failure for men and women is that they didn’t know how close they were from success because they gave up.  

This important panel was led by our April leaders Fitsum Kidanemariam and Sara Yirga.  

We’d like to thank our Menlikish men for their insight of how doing the right thing sustains human relations. We also would like to express our deep appreciation to our audience for the continuous support we get for this great movement called AWiB.

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