Walk the Talk- AWiB Listens- World Café, Monthly Event Re-cap

Walk the Talk- AWiB Listens- World Café
Date: January 3, 2019
Venue: Sheraton Addis

Facilitation: Sewit Haileselassie Tadesse (Lead Facilitator), Felekech “Fei” Zewde Biratu (co-facilitator), HawariatPetros, , BlenFitsum, MetiShewayeYilma, SaraTadios, Semhal,Adanech, Nebat , Siyane

Introduction:

AWiB President SewitHaileselassie welcomed participants and made a brief introduction of the theme of the evening and how the world café discussion would be facilitated. AWiB President, Sewit Haileselassie Tadeese and President Elect Felekech “Fei” Zewde Biratu, tabled three questions for participants to discuss and reflect on and concluded by giving the audience time to make a pledge by asking them what they can start doing for themselves and for other women to enable women’s leadership and decision making. Below are the questions forwarded and what participants discussed.

  1. What does thinking beyond participation and parity mean to you?

Participation is done to have women as fillers in order to make the quota. Even when handful of women is present, they are given specific positions such as treasurer.  Women need to participate beyond the nominal and engage in full decision making. Women have to be capable and fit for the positions they assume instead of being there just for the sake of participation.  Beyond participation women’ s voice needs to be taken seriously  and to this end women leaders have to be well informed and knowledgeable about their roles , be the change they want to create and lead by example.

Unless the society works on enabling women to be capable, participation will fail and backfire on women further reinforcing the stereotyping that women are not capable. Being capable will also save women from being noticed when making a mistake unlike men whom no one remembers when they are at fault. In addition, working on the team under the leadership of a female leader is important to raise awareness and make them accept and being ready to be led by a woman.

To see women participating and further having power gives courage to others. We have capable women who can walk the talk. The fact that the current president of Ethiopia is a woman has encouraged a lot of young female to aspire to be future leaders.

However, while it’s a great achievement to have participation at higher level, people tend to be influenced more at a local level (when changes happen near to them). 50/50 representation is further needed at lower and middle level positions in government. We don’t see many women being part of any political party as members or as leaders. And it is critically important for political parties to have women’s issues in their agenda as well as have women on board in their parties. It was mentioned that in the opposition camp only one female political leader Birtukan Mideksa was able to be at the forefront through competition.

In the developed world studies show that men earn 1USD while women earn 70-80 US cents for the same type of work but such type of research needs to be conducted in Ethiopia to understand the reality here. Though women need to be able to speak for themselves and assume responsibility, they have fear as well as a lot of responsibilities in life that keep them from seeking and holding higher positions.

  1. How can women leaders #WalktheTalk for equality, influence and representation?

We need to work at different levels to bring about change at systemic level, societal level and personal levels.

Systemic Level

  • Institutionalize women empowerment by establishing a system/key performance indicator at our offices to evaluate and monitor what the institution has done to support and empower women.
  • Creating an enabling environment for women such as availing day care at office premises, nursing station etc are some of the examples that can be implemented.

Societal level

  • Women need to support other women in many ways including mentoring
  • Amplifying and giving credit to women’s ideas and achievements
  • Women need to encourage, nurture and mentor to raise other younger women leaders (or those subordinates under them) making it their habit to say well done or you can do this

Personal level

  • Women themselves need to change their attitude and work on personal development. Since the culture does not encourage and value women to speak their mind, women need to break this culture andcome forward by building confidence, trusting themselves and developing the ‘I can do it’ attitude.
  • Women also need to break their own fear knowing they are capable of doing anything; daring to take responsibility like men who do not shy away from a position even if they don’t qualify or fulfill only some percentage of the requirements for a position.
  • Women need to deliver on their responsibilities; lead by example if possible, exceeding expectations set or excelling and influencing by doing.
  • Women have to be proactive in identifying possible challenges and risk areas, then have plans to deal with them early on.
  • In order to help them grow women need to regularly doself-assessment and work on themselves, looking to the future on top of focusing only on what really matters.
  1. What, as a collective, can Ethiopian women accomplish by influencing decision making socially, economically and politically?

The leadership traits of women by their very nature (character) would benefit the society in all aspects of life including economy, politics and social life. To begin with women do not need to justify to be given the opportunity to lead but by the very virtue of being citizens, they have the right to lead their country (society) they live in. In addition, men can’t and shouldn’t make the decision representing women.

However, because of their character/nature women can bring different perspectives/ broader insight which will lead to better success with many solutions as they are detailed and analyze things from all directions not to mention that there will be efficient resource utilization and less risk of corruption. Since women are collective as opposed to being egoistic in character, she is responsible and can tackle problems from a common good perspective and it will have more impact to have peace. Women seek security so when they manage they always resort to peace and solve things peacefully instead of rushing to fight. “More women in powerless war.”

We will have policies that are more supportive and protective of women which will result in enforcing rules and regulations to protect the rights of women including a more women-friendly work environment.  Women will create an inclusive and supportive environment and society will get to the stage where gender does not matter or does not play a role. Seeing more women in leadership will also inspire younger girls to achieve their dreams and break the attitude that women are homemakers only. Even as homemakers, women spend money on household essential items and general family welfare, hence the family benefits. In the future, however, things will change when we raise boys and girls equally and bring about equal society as opposed to the existing patriarchal society.

Conclusion

Finally, at the end of the world café session participants were given a chance to take time and pledge what they can start doing for themselves and for other women to enable women’s leadership and decision making. The following are the pledges some of the participantsshared with the plenary while some kept it for themselves.

  • Bring more women to leadership wherever we are
  • Support women leaders eg: the 50% women ministers
  • Push women up on the ladder to have not only 50% on parliament but more
  • Work on children to be raised better to have influence laterby raising boys and girls equally
  • Create an opportunity for the younger generation
  • Identifyand mentor other young girls
  • Believe in oneself and network with like-minded individuals
  • Learnand grow investing in oneself
  • Update oneself on global and local issues, beone step ahead
  • Be assertive
  • Open up and share personal story/experience (of female leaders) to others- how they made it

Share on your socials!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *