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Columnists

Lessons for women from Laboso in push for gender equality

Joyce Laboso
The late Joyce Laboso. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

UN Women’s 2014 survey on the role of women in development calls for embracing equal participation as leaders and decision-makers.

The National Gender and Equality Act 2011 and the National Gender and Equality Commission have enhanced women’s rights.

Women leaders who have weathered the storm and risen to greater heights of leadership are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration.

In Hillary Clinton’s memoir on her campaign for the presidency that she lost to Donald Trump, What Happened, she describes how male candidates stalked her on stage to intimidate and pressure her to blow up to prove she was incapable of handling political pressure.

Condoleeza Rice, a professor at Stanford University, and co-founder of the RiceHadley Group is another example.

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She was the 66th US Secretary of State and the first black woman to hold that office. Before that, she was the first woman to serve as National Security Adviser.

Her memoir No Higher Honour contains these details of work as a diplomat.

GLOWING TRIBUTE

In Kenya, three women made history after they won governor seats in the 2017 General Election.

Joyce Laboso, who died recently, was one of the three. In a country that is mired in corruption, it was amazing to hear tributes to the late Laboso, led by Edwin Abonyo, her husband.

Like Dr Laboso, many great Kenyan women can lead and propel Kenya and Africa to greater heights.

Former US President Barack Obama recently said: “More women need to be put in positions of power because men seem to be having some problems these days.”

Three things that make women the best leaders stand out.

COLLABORATION

While the traditional leadership structures focus on accumulating power and then exercising it over others, the women leadership approach focuses on sharing power, empowering teams, and putting the needs of the team first, so that they can perform to their highest level.

Being mothers, women have a genuine passion for working with others.

MOTIVATION

Women are natural cheerleaders. They love discovering what motivates people into action and are excited to hand out words of encouragement, thank-yous, gifts for jobs well done and pats on the back, which could explain why Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager report says that people who work for women leaders are more engaged than those who work for men.

ACCESSIBILITY

Accessibility is not just about being physically available, it is about having an open mind and heart.

Psychologists say women are adept at being open, likely because of their motherly instinct and desire to provide for others. This innate compassion means that women are more likely to be supportive of individuals at all levels of their organisation, regardless of their rank or title.

The endeavour by conscientious leaders in Kenya to actualise the one-third gender rule in public appointments will go a long way in allowing women to serve and prove their worth.

The death of Dr Laboso should challenge women to rise to the challenge. Kenya needs more of you.

The writer is a strategic development consultant.

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