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Opinion | Aug 7, 2018

Women And Rough Spaces Of Leadership

It is said that what doesn’t kill you strengthens you; thus, giving women the opportunity to serve in leadership spaces that are known to be rough does nothing but strengthens these women whether they fail or succeed.

Actually, in a politically polarized society like ours a woman’s failure in a rough political leadership space goes beyond finding legal infractions, it has to do with perceptions that are made to become realities. Again, in a politically polarized society where when women are given rough leadership spaces, the notion from dissenting voices start to sneer and cast insinuations that suggest that the women got these opportunities in the respective spaces through sexual favours.

Sadly, fellow women join this bandwagon argument of casting aspersions against their fellow women; yet these women who sneer and cast the aspersion are advocating that women should respected. This hypocrisy is like a boil that can’t be lanced. It’s in the women themselves.

Right from the beginning of the 18th century until date women and other men have argued, written and spoken for the respect and dignity as well as participation of women in issues of governance. Issues that concern women playing critical roles in the governance of their countries have always been thorny. Sometimes the chauvinistic and gender norms that are inherent in society fights against the rise of women. As mentioned earlier women have also been part of the problem.

These efforts of the rom early sociologists and philosophers has culminated into the enacting of various international instruments that seek to protect women and ensure their participation in leadership spaces across the globe.

The problems that comes along with women in rough spaces is a consequence of the political polarisation of our country. When a political party is in opposition, and a particular woman is appointed for a rough leadership the chorus is one that casts innuendos, insinuations, and aspersions that suggest that the woman is not qualified to be in that position. And this says one thing: that the hypocrisy that underlies our advocacy for women to get to the top in governance is legendary!

This trend is a very dangerous one since it has the tendency to discourage competent women from taking up positions that they are otherwise qualified for. Imagine that women who have all the qualities that a public office requires and then due to the fear of what will be said about them, these women decide not to take these positions – it is the nation that loses. This lose can be very damning. There’s a funny cliché among Ghanaians: if you know, you know – there’re women who have excellent leadership traits that most men don’t have.

Women as long as they have the intellectual qualifications, excellent human relations coupled with a tough skin they should be given the so-called rough spaces. Rough spaces of leadership in our national governance did not become rough on their own; we made them to be rough for ourselves. No man will succeed in any rough leadership space if he doesn’t have the right intellectual qualifications, excellent human relations coupled with a tough skin.

Women are part of society. If we’ve rough systems there’s nothing wrong in allowing them to contribute to smoothen those rough positions. Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister once noted: In a letter written to the editor, At the turn of the 20th century voices of women demanding to be given spaces in governance became louder and this saw the rise of the concept of feminism.

ALEX BLEGE, © 2018

This author has authored 96 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: ALEXBLEGE

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