Career women

The Woman In Office

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the author’s.

I have never been so much into Politics in the past and recent past. Indeed, I have hardly blogged about politics in my whole period as a blogger. However, I can’t help but be a Clinton supporter in the American race for presidency. I really admire this woman’s strength and resilience and the events that have unfolded during this American campaign period, have only made me really want her to clinch the presidency. Not that I know much about American politics save for watching the CNN News and chancing on Hillary Clinton’s autobiography in the campus library one rainy evening, which I chose to devour as I found the book highly interesting. But that little knowledge I have acquired about this woman, has led me to firmly believe that women can indeed be world leaders.

There has always been a tendency in the past to associate women in the public eye with beauty, fashion and style. All we get to hear about is what she was wearing and who dressed her and how she looked in the process, downplaying some of the significant roles that a woman in the public eye is supposed to perform. And while it is of equal importance that a woman should take care of her appearance and especially, if she occupies a certain position that requires her to look the part, I tend to think that always being concerned with how she looks doesn’t really matter sometimes, but only does a good job of furthering the stereotype that women ought to be admired in the physical sense and not the intellectual sense.

Image sourced from www.motherjones.com

Image sourced from http://www.motherjones.com

In my country, when wife to the late Joshua Orwa Ojode who passed away in a helicopter crash in 2012, mentioned in a recent anniversary of her husband’s death, that she would wish to represent the Ndhiwa Constituency just as her deceased husband once did, it was interesting to note that what many people noticed was how her hair looked in one of the photos. The said photo did the rounds on social media with Kenyan men and women alike bashing her for what they termed as her hair appearing “wild”. With some going as far as to suggest that she needed a salon visit before declaring her political ambitions. I mean, did anyone consider that it could have been windy on that particular day?!

And while I find Clinton to be well put together in her pantsuits ( we call them trouser suits in my country), subtle jewelery and well coiffured hair, I’m glad that the focus is not always on what she is wearing and which designer she is representing, but on what her values are as an American individual and how she plans to move the American society forward should she become president.

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband's death. Photo courtesy of www.capitalfm.co.ke

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband’s death. Photo courtesy of http://www.capitalfm.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of http://www.nation.co.ke

It should equally be noted that women in office should not necessarily be divorcees and therefore deserving of the stereotype that some careers for the female gender cannot accommodate a husband in a woman’s life. Indeed Clinton has had her fair share of marital woes and especially in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I have come across some articles that criticize her on how she chose to handle some of the scandals with other women involving her husband while he was in office. I do not consider her unwise per se, for choosing to stick to her husband as she would go on to state in her 2003 memoir that No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.

Her choice to save her marriage remains a personal choice. I bet she does value the family unit and the American people equally do irregardless of the divorce rates in the country. If they didn’t, then none of the Obama family pictures would have constantly been put on display like they have been. And beautiful pictures indeed which serve to show that strong willed, opinionated, educated, career oriented women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton can still balance being a mother, wife and office duties.

In African societies, women have constantly been under represented in political issues concerning the country. We tend to sensationalize the fact that women are highly emotional and of a lesser intellectual capability to fully understand what running the country entails. The chauvinistic nature of most African societies firmly imprints in the minds of men that women should not hold positions of leadership. That women should always cower behind the leadership of men. It is refreshing to see that in recent times, more African women are taking up positions of leadership and more African men are beginning to realize that behind that veneer of sexuality and beauty lies a sharp mind.

A woman’s presence should not only be gauged by her marital status and how she looks physically. I recently came across an article in one of the local papers, where women vying for women representative position in the coming 2017 elections, in one of the parts of our country, were being termed as “beautiful”. It was more like who is fairer than the other. I felt as if the emphasis should have been more on their political ambitions and less on their physical appearances. However, this only served to show how much society in recent times, has objectified the woman so much to the point where it did not matter what age she was, what she represented and what she believed in.

Unlike her counterpart in the American presidency race, who has often exhibited high emotions and an ignorance on how some policies, other societies and races function, I feel like Clinton has handled herself with grace and intellect. It would indeed be refreshing to see a superpower being led by a woman and equally, a motivation for African women that high positions in the country are possible for them to hold.

 

 

An Annalysis Of The Kenyan Campus Situation

I dropped out of campus 2 years ago due to financial constraints. Before dropping out, it had been a 7 year struggle for me trying to get a degree to no avail. I had attained the cluster points necessary for me to gain admission into campus in my country in the KCSE examinations. However, I was more than sure that the Course I would be considered for, if I did join Public University as a Regular student, wouldn’t be something I had a passion of pursuing.

And so like many other Kenyan students in a similar predicament, I opted for the Parallel Course. By opting for that, I knew that I would be a self-sponsored student unlike the government sponsored Regular Course students. I knew that I would have to pay way higher for my tuition fee than the latter category. However, I found comfort in the fact that I would still be eligible for the HELB loan. Thanks to the government considering the fact that there were indeed needy students in the Parallel programme.

But there was an advantage for parallel students in Public Universities. Unlike their counterparts in the Regular Programme who took longer to finish their courses in campus. The parallel students are usually in a crash form of programme. Within 3 years, a student is done with their undergraduate studies. Considering this in mind and seeing that I had always excelled in Languages and Humanities, I chose a Course I had a passion for. Little did I know that this would prove to be a grueling process which ended in me having to drop out.

I was a HELB loan beneficiary four times. However, with the exorbitant tuition fees, my annual loan of 55,000 Kshs only catered for 4 of my units in a Semester. It did help a long way seeing that I was in dire financial constraints with a strong zeal to attain a degree but at the same time, it wasn’t enough. Now my narration is not an attempt to draw a pity party kind of scenario to myself. Neither is it a ploy to point fingers at the Government sponsored student loan. As a matter of fact, I will still go back to campus to finish my degree but this time round, in a Private University.

Why have I opted for a Private University?

Private Universities have in the past been associated with students from well off families. Parents who could afford to pay campus fee totaling around 100,000kshs per semester without factoring in accommodation and pocket money. I personally plan to educate myself in a Private University from my own pocket. I’m psychologically prepared for the tuition fee I would be required to pay. But I’m certain that the quality of education I would attain from an established Private University would be higher than the one I attained in a Public University.

I’m not trying to insinuate that Public Universities are for the poor and of bare minimum quality of education. Indeed, some of our Public Universities in Kenya have been in existence from the colonial times and have since created a name for themselves, in some of the courses where they are known to churn out the best professionals. The one I was enrolled in was no different. However, it is no secret that many of our Kenyan Institutions of Higher Learning have in recent times, leaned more on the money making side of things than of giving quality education.

I was paying close to 100.000kshs per semester in a degree course offered by a Public University under the Parallel Programme. Not much difference from a student purported to be from a well off family in an established renowned Private University. Indeed many of us struggled a lot with school fee to the extent of dropping out. We were advised to get funding in the form of student loans but that did only a little to ease our tuition fee financial burdens. At some point, we started feeling as if we were being punished heavily, for failing to join campus via the government sponsored regular programme, if the frustrating high tuition fee was anything to go by.

Young Kenyans are hungry for education. However, being an average performer further hampers this dream in the youth of Kenya. For this post, I chose not to refer to any of the statistics given, but rather to relay the situation on the ground just as I have equally experienced it. When Garissa University happened, it was evident the high number of needy students in Kenyan Campuses. Many of the Garissa University victims were students from poor families, who had ended up in campus through the government sponsorship admission. They simply wanted to learn and eventually improve their livelihoods.

These are the things the government needs to look at. I’m 100% sure that a majority of the Garissa University students were HELB beneficiaries. HELB really helps the needy Regular students and especially, if you manage to get the maximum amount of around 50,000Kshs, according to an article on the Business Daily website dated January 27 2015 which is a reduction from the previous maximum amount of 60,000kshs. The regular course tuition fee is way reasonable as compared to the parallel course. However, you will be highly surprised that many Kenyan students still miss out on this. Reason being, that they fail to gain admission into Public Universities perhaps, due to the marks they attained in their KCSE in high school and therefore, their parents cannot afford to enroll them into parallel programmes as an alternative.

The student leaders in our Public Universities do little to help with the plight of struggling students in the Parallel Programme. It is almost like over time, the student leaders have developed an insensitivity toward their counterparts who are not in the Regular programme like them. They appear to assume that since they are paying much higher than them, then they can definitely afford it and therefore, need no representation whatsoever. I will confidently state that while in campus, I paid annually for the student leadership as part of my tuition fee. An amount of 1,000kshs. Higher than what the Regular Student pays. And never once, did I hear our student leader address the plight of the parallel programme students, except hollering over cheap, unnecessary politics that hardly concerned education.

My intention in stating the above is not to create a rift but rather to address the deep rooted issues that are ailing our higher education as a country. We need more enlightened Kenyans. We need more degrees in our nation. It doesn’t matter whether this person with a degree will go the formal employment way or not. Education empowers you as an individual. Once literate, you cannot reason like someone who has never been to school and this is way important in the development of a nation. As much as there are concrete reasons as to why there are Parallel as well as Regular courses, it is time we asked ourselves critically if everyone who had initially been targeted by these crucial decisions, is in essence benefiting from them.

There are quite a number of our Kenyan students in foreign universities abroad. We need to ask ourselves why this is so other than dismissing this fact to their parents having money to send them abroad. Why aren’t the Western countries sending their students to Africa to study? Not unless they are on exchange programmes or in universities with an affiliation with some of the best universities in the West? What can we do as a nation to improve the quality of our education in higher learning institutions and in the process, ensure that a larger percentage of our Kenyan youth are in campus to the end? What do our student leaders in campus need to really fight for?

These are questions that are posed to all of us and not just individuals.

Do You Treat Your Domestic Worker Well?

Opposition leader and former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s daughter got herself in some hot soup sometime last week. Winnie Odinga in a “hit the nail on the head” kind of post, lashed out at Middle Class Kenyans, for the poor pay they give their househelps and suggested a salary of around 50,000kshs. A small section of the Facebook post from Winnie read;

Middle class Kenya needs to wake up. Every time you pay someone less than 50,000 shillings a month you are responsible for creating a home in the slum. Surprised? Or did you think 12,500 would afford your househelp a chalet in Muthaiga?
 www.domesticworkersupport.info
We call them Mboches (Domestic worker/househelp) in Kenyan urban slang. The ladies we usually employ in our houses to take care of our children and home affairs while we are away on job duties.
Currently in my country, more women are career oriented therefore, they cannot really skirt around the idea of whether they should employ a househelp or not. If there are children involved and mummy has to work, then definitely a househelp HAS to be employed.
An article on The Business Daily Website dated October 7th 2015 and titled Number of Kenyan super earners shrinks as income gap grows states;

Only 68,676 or 2.89 per cent of formal sector employees in Kenya earn more than Sh100,000 per month, according to newly released data, showing a widening income gap in the country. The data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that more than half of formal sector workers (64.5 per cent) are living on low wages of between Sh20,000 and Sh49,000 that have barely increased in the past 10 years, eroding the wage earners’ purchasing power.

In the Informal sector with all its unpredictability, the figures of super earners in relation to the moderate to low earners could be worse. No wonder the kind of uproar from quite a large number of Kenyans, who got the chance to give their two pence worth on what Winnie Odinga had bashfully proposed.

With such a kind of statistics showing the percentage of Kenyans who are earning between 20,000 kshs and 49,000kshs per month, it would be unfathomable for a Kenyan falling in that category, to be able to comfortably pay their househelp 50,000kshs even if they would have wanted to.

However, there was equally the argument that Winnie was referring to middle class Kenyans (whom in essence, could be earning between 50,000kshs to 80,000kshs with bills to pay and school going children). So indeed her reasoning still sounds a bit too farfetched if you choose to look at it in such a manner.

The question of how well you treat your domestic worker is a rather contentious one. Sometime last year, a Ugandan clip surfaced on the Internet, of a househelp thoroughly beating a hapless toddler who had been left in her care.

The clip elicited a lot of negative emotion and especially from mothers who can relate well with the uncertainty, of leaving a child in the care of someone, who could as well be a stranger to your family.

Househelps have been known in the past, to often times take out their frustration with their employer on the children and somehow, manage to get away with it. In this case, justice was served and the househelp jailed thanks to the secret nanny cam, that the employer had wisely thought of installing in the home.

This of course brought about the debate of whether nanny cams were indeed a viable option for employers to take. And would installing a nanny cam in the house ensure that the househelp was indeed tamed while the parents were away?

Assuming a Kenyan could indeed afford to pay their househelp 50,000kshs a month, give her a comfortable bed to sleep in, treat her with utmost respect, ensure that she ate and dressed but still installed a nanny cam somewhere in the house, without the househelp’s knowledge. Wouldn’t the househelp feel curtailed in her movements or as if her rights to freedom of being infringed if at all she found out about the installed cams watching her every move?

In another scenario, a Kenyan pays their househelp 4,500kshs. What that Kenyan can afford but still gives the househelp a bed to sleep in, food to eat, clothes to wear and treatment of the utmost respect but without any nanny cams installed. Then this househelp perhaps in a sense of ingratitude, decides to mistreat her employers kids. Would her actions be tied to the kind of treatment she received from her employer?

Now I’m not trying to imply that all employers are saints. There are indeed quite a number of employers who are actually devil incarnates. Who wouldn’t spare a thought for a domestic worker in their home. Who would gladly pay her peanuts and watch with glee while she worked to the bone day and night just to keep the home running and the kids organized. Whose husbands would prey on the hapless domestic workers in the dead of the night for despicable sexual favors. Employers who would not think twice about delaying or withholding a help’s salary.

You might be very surprised that some of the domestic workers in such homes, can actually work diligently for their employer for many years irregardless of the kind of treatment being meted out. Even more taken aback by the fact that a domestic worker, being treated well by an employer might decide to just up and go one day, without giving any notice to the employer.

The question of how well you treat your domestic worker should well be answered by the Kenyan who wants to employ one for whatever reason. It is time that Kenyans started looking at the mboch as a human being with needs such as ours. However, a Kenyan should equally be clear with the househelp during employment, on the amount of money that he/she will be in a position to pay. If the househelp is not willing to take the amount then she should equally be clear in her refusal to take the job.

Indeed regulations have been put by the government in the recent past, on what should be the minimum salary that a househelp should take home. However, just to be fair, few Kenyans can afford to pay a househelp a salary of 10,954kshs per month. Not with the kind of salaries many Kenyans are taking home in addition to the high cost of living and responsibilities to be attended to.

Winnie Odinga might have truly had a good point in her argument but I think she fell short of understanding the reality on the ground. And the reality on the ground is that only a very small number of Kenyans can afford to pay a help 50,000kshs. Equally, the treatment of a househelp is not measured by how much you choose to pay her. It is actually measured by an employer’s integrity and therefore bashing middle class Kenyans is uncalled for.

 

 

 

Women Fear Men Will Leave Them; Men Fear Women Will Leave Them

I recently had a highly interesting convo with a security guard someplace in my line of duty. On a daily basis, I can talk to quite a number of people a majority being strangers and acquaintances and this security guard was no different. So being part of my job, I suggested to him an idea of how he could make himself more money and ultimately benefit his family.

He was the skeptical type. Didn’t seem really interested in the suggestion but ended up mentioning his wife fleetingly. He thought that since she wasn’t as held up as he was, then she could probably take up the idea I had. Animatedly, I began coming up with more plans for the wife on how she could implement the idea and all of a sudden, this man grew highly uncomfortable.

His demeanor changed and in an uncertain tone, he said, “Na sasa bibi akitengeneza pesa hivyo, si ataniwacha?” (and if my wife ends up making a ton of money, won’t she leave me?) Of course the statement caught me off guard and I laughed and asked why she would leave him.

Then as if challenging me, he inquired whether I was married. I lied that I was. Then he further mentioned, that if I ended up making a lot of money from my job, then it was given that I would leave my husband. I clarified that I wouldn’t since we were working as a unit. Obviously, that didn’t sound convincing enough for him and the conversation went downhill from there.

In short, this man feared that if his wife got a financial capability of sorts, then she would see no need to stick around and no amount of convincing could I do, to get that thought out of his head.

You see, both sexes fear each other.

Women fear that men would leave them for a couple of reasons;

  • After sex. (If they do, f**k em!)
  • They are not beautiful/sexy enough.
  • They are inadequate (now this is crazy)
  • Other women are hotter and more appealing etc. etc…

Men on the other hand fear that women will leave them because of Money.

In most cases, men take a woman’s financial stability as a huge red flag of her inability to be loyal onward. As a woman, I tend to reason in terms of healthy competition but for the man, it is something that needs to be curtailed if need be.

Now I’m not suggesting that all men reason in such a manner but for those that do, I figure it is highly pegged on what society has instilled in men for generations and an insecurity of sorts on their part. It is a harsh fact that patriarchy rules in many societies the world over. Men have always been groomed to have the upper hand.

In recent times, women are now being groomed to have the upper hand. In the process, the men are being left behind. While the girl children are being encouraged to study and attain their maximum potential, the boy children are assumed to already know what is expected of them and to somehow, manage since they are in fact men.

I have encountered people in the past who argued that we spent so much time on girl power that we ended up forgetting all about the boy child. So definitely, if men know that a woman is likely to get justice for a gender injustice of some sort and the man is supposed to suck it up or get jeered at for being a weakling for a similar gender injustice, then men cannot help experiencing certain insecurities.

However, acting all mistrustful of each other isn’t going to even half solve this problem. From that conversation I had with this man, I made a conclusion that he was in a marriage that was riddled with mistrust. Getting him to give his wife my phone number, was equally a hurdle, because he mentioned that she would question him on where he had gotten acquainted with me from.

Well, we may be tempted to dismiss this couple as an exception but I beg to differ. The fear between the sexes has always been in existence. It doesn’t matter how much exposure one has had or education for that matter, women will always fear that men will leave them mainly because they are not good enough if the reasons given are anything to go by.

Men on the other hand, learned or unlearned almost, always fear that a woman’s financial stability is going to change her. Their fears may actually be real in the sense that many women with financial stability, do not seem like the type to be pinned down by the opposite sex. But why in the first place would a man want to pin down a woman?

You see, as a result of our previous conditioning, we got the whole script wrong. In a patriarchal setting, the man definitely has the say. The woman has none. But then, somewhere along the way, the woman discovered that with education and career success, then she could equally have a say and just to prove that she could, she had to act like she could.

Of course this left the men fighting for what they had since grown accustomed to as the norm. And the women on the other hand, fighting for the freedom they had since attained. But then, both sexes need each other like it or not so no matter how much a woman is learned or financially liberated, she would still yearn to feel desirable to the opposite sex.

She can’t admit this however, for fear of appearing desperate despite her status but it is an issue that sometimes gnaws at her. The men on the hand still need to feel respected and needed. So if a woman attains a level where she appears not to need a man and unfortunately in some cases act disrespectful toward the man, then the man is left reeling in shock.

And the power struggle goes on so much, to the point where both sexes have grown mistrustful of each other.

Do you agree?

Should Women Shelve Ambition For Marriage?

We live in fast paced times where it is more of an inherent need for all genders to be gainfully employed. The times when a woman’s workplace was only within the home environment are long gone and we now have women climbing corporate ladders and actually being highly competent at it. This however creates an additional ‘hurdle’ to the lives of career women if we may address it as such. Finding the time to date, settle down and start a family.
A lot of criticism has been directed at women who prefer to concentrate on their careers instead of channeling their thoughts toward finding a husband. Single women who are highly successful in their careers have often times been scorned for ‘shunning’ marriage. Coming from an African society which places a lot of emphasis on the role of a woman as a wife and mother, we may conclude that this has mostly been the contributing factor, to the finger pointing and wagging tongues directed at this section of women.
A look at history surprisingly indicates that while there was an early emergence of the need for women to work, women hardly placed any importance on their careers as is the case in modern times. An article on the website http://www.bbc.co.uk titled Women’s Work and published on the 29th of March, 2011 states;

Urbanisation created manifold opportunities for female employment despite the regulation of hours and conditions of work for women and juveniles in certain sectors and, the coming of compulsory education after 1871. Thus most women in Victorian society, in the two thirds of the population below the upper and middle classes worked for wages…With the emphasis primarily upon their role as wives and mothers, women did not usually see their occupation as a centrally defining characteristic of their lives and therefore, failed to declare it.

The same case applies to African societies where for many years, an emphasis on educating the boy child had been placed at the expense of the girl child. It was not uncommon for fathers to anticipate the amount of dowry that their daughters would bring home therefore, hasty decisions made to marry the girl child off.
Educating the girl child not only empowered her but equally opened up her eyes to the numerous opportunities out there for the woman. With the championing of women’s rights and gender equality in work places, women were now able to earn the same amount of salaries as their male counterparts as long as they were qualified for it and competent to do the job.

thewaywomenwork.com

thewaywomenwork.com

Unlike in previous times where a woman sat pretty anticipating a knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet and airlift her to marriageville, women began to attach their reason for being to the kind of employment they were in. Women found it necessary to dream, to actually strive for it in reality and to eventually be proud of what their efforts had yielded. The times where women shied away from stating their careers since the wage they earned, was nothing to write home about and the fact that the patriarchal societies they came from, dictated that they stay at home and raise the kids gradually faded into oblivion.
And while being consumed by career demands may tend to shift a woman’s focus away from the traditional school of thought of her roles being that of a mother or wife, it would be unfair to go all judgmental on women who chose career and ambitions before marriage or over marriage. It should be understood that marriage is a lifetime decision that may not be cut out for everyone.
Indeed, there are numerous women who successfully pursue their ambitions and in the midst of it all manage to find a husband material, settle down and surprisingly, raise well rounded children. Such women you may come to discover had highly supportive husbands who were not at all threatened by their wives’ successes. Sadly, most African men tend to be a little threatened by a woman who appears to be challenging their masculinity in all feats.

psychcentral.com

psychcentral.com

We blame this kind of thinking in men to what has been deeply entrenched in African societies for years. African societies are very guilty of parading the boy child as a savior of the community. Women on the other hand were only to be seen and not heard. It was the main reason why many fathers saw no need to educate their daughters. Daughters were not given the same intellectual view as sons were.
Unfortunately, many modern African men live by this rule to date. This could be the contributing factor for many women who are highly ambitious, failing to keep their marriages intact. We may be tempted to blame it on the fact that it is quite a daunting task to tame a woman who is successful in the house.
And while this may ring true in a couple of homes which are on the verge of breaking or broke because of a woman’s rise up the career ladder, chances are that the husband too happens to blame, for his lack of acceptance of his wives’ pursuit of ambitions.
There are successful women whose ambition did not interfere with their gentle make up yet they still find themselves single mothers or senior bachelorettes. The reason for the latter; men being intimidated by their social standing or career.
Modern times demand that all genders pursue their ambitions. Motivational books preach success. Women are more learned and willing to go to school to add onto their skills. Opportunities are aplenty for the female workforce. However, the time a woman chooses to settle or the way she views marriage should be left for her to decide. All these stereotypes we attach to ambitious women only serve to hamper the liberation of women in society.

Would You Take Up Your Husband’s Name?

atlantablackstar.com

I belong to a highly interesting Whatsapp Group. Perhaps I should give you guys a brief history of the members of this group and why I find it that entertaining.

Well, all the members are people we schooled together in the same year in primary school. Most of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 all the way to 13. A couple of the members are people I’ve shared a class with from age 6 to 17 which is primary school and high school included. Plus we are at that stage in our lives where some of us are settled down with kids, others are in the wedding planning process and others are kind of starting to feel the heat, to find that someone and make a family.

Quite recently, we had quite a charged debate on the group on whether women should take up their husband’s names after marriage. Of course the opinions were varied with some stating that they would retain their maiden names, while others thought it best to take up the hubby’s name. I lay on the latter form of reasoning.

Marriage to me has always been some sort of fascination. I especially love how other cultures conduct their weddings. I love how the Hindu brides dress up for their big day. The intricate henna designs and the jewellery. Makes any woman anticipate marriage! I admire the Muslim Nikka and all the celebration that goes with it. I will always want to watch a program that is wedding themed. Indeed, the reader can already judge that weddings are a key factor in my fascination with marriages.

Over the years, I have kind of settled on the idea that an official marriage would be good for me in future. I would not fancy a “come-we-stay” arrangement as we refer to them in my country where we live under one roof as partners. That doesn’t mean that I frown upon people who haven’t made their marriages official. I’m of the idea that whatever floats your boat with regards to whom you want to spend the rest of your life with, then by all means, go for it!

However, I find an official marriage in my case to be some sort of a sense of security. I would yearn to make it official whether it will last only 2 years or a lifetime. Quite a number of people from the opposite sex may argue that weddings are an unnecessary expenditure. A tiresome chore for the man. Others of both sexes may conclude that if a marriage made official does not work, then divorce court proceedings will definitely be an otherwise, avoidable cause for sleepless nights. I tend to hear the reasoning “tujaribu” (we try) from some people when they talk of settling in marriage.

I personally would not want to “kujaribu”. I would want to make it work. I would want to go to a church and take my wedding vows from there because I believe in seeking God’s blessings in a marriage and where else, if not in his house! I know it’s probably very easy for me to talk about making it work when marriage for me is not even in the cards yet. I equally know that this whole union needs a lot of tolerance and may not always be “a happy ever after” affair. Heck, I’ve seen enough marriages break all around me to further confirm my fears that it’s quite rocky in that world. However, it wouldn’t hurt if I still did my best to make it work and that is just per my reasoning.

So yes, if my husband-to-be is willing to go through all the steps to be officially hitched to me, I will definitely take up his name. It wouldn’t be something I would think twice of doing. If I’m in love with him and willing to spend the rest of my life with him, then I believe we are one unit and we can’t successfully achieve that one unit, if we are using different names. I would want to show my children the importance of having a family name. I can’t quite say that worked well for my parents but my mother ensured we used our father’s name. It didn’t matter to her that they were no longer together, she still insisted that the name should appear in our school certificates and national IDs.

Personally, I wouldn’t feel less of a woman for using my husband’s name. As a matter of fact, I will have a sense of pride for being accorded a Mrs. So and So status. It would only serve to remind me of the commitment I made to that special someone. I have witnessed many professional women still retain their maiden names then add a hyphen and their husband’s name at the end. That didn’t make them less professional per se. It didn’t make them lose their brand. It only proved that they have moved from one stage into another.

I view marriage as a transition. Of course with all the adjustments you have to make in your life once you get married, it is only befitting to accord it that status. A name change to me simply signifies the whole transitioning process.

So, would you take up your husband’s name?

 

 

Would You Date A Workmate?

There’s a challenge that most single career women have to face; finding time to date.

Being on duty for more than 8 hours, 6 days a week for some, can tend to be quite hectic to the point where your social life starts to feel dead. Yet we all know that for us to be able to meet eligible bachelors, we need to go out and mingle. How then do you navigate around your equally important work schedule to be able to have time to socialize and mingle? Sometimes, it starts to feel easier settling for that handsome, unhitched workmate sitting across you in the office.

I have a couple of personal reasons why I would not dare date someone I’m working with. The major reason being that I would feel unchallenged, dating someone with whom I share an almost similar schedule every day of the week. The fact that we both wake up in the morning and head to the same organisation whether different departments or not, is enough to make me get bored with the whole idea of dating this man. It has nothing to do with the knowledge of the salary scale. I simply would want someone in a whole different field, different work environment from the one I’m in.

The second reason is that I’m particularly scared of the complications that come along with dating and especially, if it is someone I see each and every day. Relationships are not always smooth sailing. We sometimes disagree, think we’ve fallen out of love only to realize that the feelings still linger, stay angry at each other for days…I have a strong feeling that bumping into someone you argued with or broke up with just the previous evening on the corridors, wouldn’t exactly be such a pleasant surprise, whether we act all mature about it or not.

Slut shaming.

Let’s face it, not all men outgrow the adolescent stage of kiss and tell. Supposedly juicy tales of “I banged that chic in the Marketing department and she’s not all that in bed”  are not entirely uncommon in some workplaces. It has nothing to do with being idle. There are just some men who take the conquest game too far to the point of spilling the beans to their colleagues. Of course to the often times clueless female, that is just too embarrassing to bear considering the fact that you have to show up at work each and every day and further endure gossip, from your female workmates who got to hear about it too. Yet another reason that gives me the chills concerning office romance.

However, my personal reasons should not at all discourage anyone who is considering dating a workmate neither should it discredit those who met in the workplace and forged wonderful, solid relationships. It does take a certain level of maturity for these types of romances to work. Depending on your organizational policies, you can either decide to follow your heart or totally ignore the feelings developing toward a workmate.

Indeed, there are situations where two workmates have ended up fired as a result of an office romance which came into public knowledge. With public knowledge being the rest of the employees including the management. Workmates who’ve been caught in compromising situations in the office during working hours. In this regard, I consider it cases of bad decisions made by the involved parties.

I’m of the idea that employees should employ some level of discretion if at all they are dating, banging or whatever. After all, it is your career that matters. I don’t think having a reputation of banging all your secretaries is something a head of some organization would want to have. I also don’t think that the epitome of a successful career woman, should be characterized by just how many times she slept her way up the career ladder with her colleagues in higher ranks. But that is simply my thinking. In the end, I’m just a blogger expressing her views on this whole subject.

Feel free to share yours too in the comment section.

Are You A Confident Woman??

I once skimmed through one of Joyce Meyer’s books, The Confident Woman and I was literally surprised by her definition of a woman considered confident.

By all standards, I could not be described as confident at the time. I was struggling with friends, family, relationships… plus it was ever so hard for me, to stand up for myself, if I didn’t like something. It almost seemed like I had given everybody a free pass, to trample all over me while I was left there battling my negative emotions.

At that point in time, I was a very miserable person and it often times showed. People would avoid me because one thing or another was depressing me to the point where I failed to be good company. It was actually by miracle, that I stumbled upon this particular book and decided to go through it judging by the fact that, I’m not so big on motivational books.

Just the other day, I was reading a certain feature on the newspaper, where readers submit a pressing, personal issue and this expert on relationships, dishes out advice that is Christian based. One of the women who had written to him was obviously battling a bad on and off relationship yet, she clearly stated in her letter, that she knew the man in question loved her and she was scared that if she left him, she was never going to find another to love her the way he does.

A confident woman does not equate bad treatment to love, period! Hard to take I know, but the truth.

We hold on to people who do not deserve us because we are not entirely confident with our abilities. We tolerate friends who are obviously taking advantage of us by all means yet, we are still not entirely confident to stand up for ourselves and put an end to the drama. Confident people are not people pleasers. They are not mean, obnoxious people who irritate everyone around them with their negative energy. Rather, they are people who know what they want and are not fearful to state it.

When a woman suffers a bout of low confidence, it equally interferes with her esteem. Indeed many people, male or female, suffering from extremely low self esteem at the same time lack in confidence. Low confidence is the root of women tearing each other apart. Many times, women who are lacking in confidence feel highly intimidated by their counterparts, who seem to be quite confident with themselves.

When they see another being able to stand up for herself, climb the career ladder steadily due to her confidence levels, appear highly content and confident in her skin, their inadequacies go into over drive. They then subconsciously embark on a sabotage mission. Most women can attest to the fact that, those other females who appear confident and sure of themselves are mostly, the subjects of snide remarks behind their backs and nasty gossip.

There is no school that can teach one on how to be confident. We are actually our own teachers. Perhaps we can start by accepting ourselves the way we are, looks and all. Let’s put the words “UGLY”, “INCAPABLE” and “NOT DESERVING” out of our minds. Let’s stop thriving on comparison.

We of the female gender are highly guilty of comparing ourselves to others of the same gender. We cultivate low confidence levels and jealousy by constantly looking over the hedge, to see if the grass is greener. Indeed the grass almost always appears greener on the other side even when it is only an illusion.

Let’s stop listening to whatever opinions others have of our own abilities. They may equally be secretly battling low confidence and therefore, projecting their fearful view of life to us. If we constantly internalize what everyone says about us, then we are going to have a very long list of mostly “CAN’Ts” which greatly affects our confidence.

Confidence can be elusive. It is fragile. We need to guard it.

By guarding our confidence levels, we do not have to develop a defensive attitude toward what others are saying. Other people will always have an opinion of sorts. Some will genuinely give it while others will give it maliciously. We need to learn to sift between genuine opinions and opinions intended to shred us off the little confidence we have gathered.

Women need confidence in their relationships with the opposite sex. It beats my logic why we are ever so fearful of breaking off a relationship that is obviously doing us more harm than good. Are we really aware of what we deserve from men? What is our definition of love? If this is not a marital union, then why are we sticking around when we are being cheated on, beaten, disrespected and controlled?

A confident woman will not stay in a relationship that brings the worst out of her. A relationship that makes her miserable and unsure of herself and her future. A confident woman is not scared to be single. If you are looking for security from the opposite sex, then the mere thought of being single will scare the shit out of you. Sadly, a huge number of women seek security from the opposite sex and it is not entirely their fault.

They may have suffered an absentee dad in their lives, sexual abuse from those who were supposed to genuinely love and protect them, divorced parents, domestic violence or were orphaned young. We do grow up and become adults capable of taking care of ourselves but some of the deeply inflicted scars in our lives do not completely heal. If as a woman you find yourself constantly clinging onto bad treatment and lacking the confidence to walk away from it all, then you need to really ask yourself some hard questions. You need to revisit your past and try to work on it, in order to make sense of the present.

Confidence does not come overnight. If I were to state that I’m fully confident at the moment then it would be a white lie. I still have those moments where I tolerate something I shouldn’t, where I agree to someone’s opinion while knowing very well that whatever is being preached is not something I conform to…heck! I’m still female and being confident every day, week and month is not our thing. However, with constant positivity and practice, I know that confidence can be achieved.

So, are you a confident woman??

 

Career Choice and Wife Material???

 

elleafrique.com

elleafrique.com

I find it sometimes ridiculous when a section of men want to tie career choice to the kind of wife a woman will make. There was an article on that recently on one of the dailies in my country, where the writer had decided to even give types of careers where the women in those fields supposedly made bad wives. I think among the list of the careers which had women falling in the lowest part of the spectrum for good wife material, happened to be police women, women in the travel industry and air hostesses. I can’t remember the rest because i was basically skimming through judging by the fact that i don’t believe in whatever was being preached. However, i did happen to notice that the list of careers given where the writer purported that men loved to marry women in those fields, happened to be the moderate ones with a career in teaching as one of them.

Now i have nothing against teachers and i actually consider it a very noble profession where everyone has to go through the hands of teachers, to be who they are at the moment in whatever profession. But i can’t help but think that with changing times, liberation of women and a wide array of career choices to make nowadays, a profession in teaching wouldn’t top the list for many modern women seeking to get into the job market. Someone made the conclusion recently that we have empowered the girl child to the extent where we ended up forgetting all about the boy child. I would like to differ a little with that view. In my opinion, i tend to believe that society empowered men a long time ago. Long before women even had the opportunity to make a decision based on career. Back to the times where a woman’s designation was to give birth, raise the kids, keep the home clean, till the land and make the man happy. But the men had the opportunity to buy land and livestock, engage in trade or to even go to school for that matter as they were considered highly beneficial to the family unit. After all in African society, they were the ones tasked with inheriting their father’s wealth and managing it effectively after his demise. If that wasn’t enough empowerment at that time, then i don’t know what to call it.

With time, activists started to notice that the girl child had been left far behind. And that the professional contribution of a woman in society was equally needed. Nobody bothered to take the girl child to school. And if they came round to doing it, she wasn’t allowed to really proceed to the end with her studies. Her only benefit was the amount of bride price she would fetch for her father. After that, she was resigned to a life around the homestead and not much room for dreams and aspirations, if all that happened was pregnancy after pregnancy and a preoccupation with raising kids and looking after her home, which by the way, belonged to her husband. And gradually, parents started being encouraged to take the girl to school and to allow her to dream and actually proceed with her studies to her maximum satisfaction. Eventually, people eager for change and seeing the logic behind it, picked it up and soon the girl child was on her way to the top. Whatever happened to the boy child is that he grew complacent in his position. He wasn’t trying enough because he already knew that he was highly beneficial to the family. Nobody really pushed for the boy child to be taken to school because his father already ensured that without much prompting. He knew the importance of having a son and an educated one for that matter to better make manly decisions in future. According to me, the men became comfortable in their position and were only jolted back to reality by women jostling for top corporate positions who were equally well qualified for the job. And the stereotypes began.

Tying the career choice of a woman to what kind of wife she will make is utter nonsense. It is the character of a woman that determines that. If at all she grows horns (translated literally from my national language to mean becoming haughty or unbearable) because of the position of a CEO or Founder of some multi-billion business she now owns, then blame it on her choice to forget where she has come from. There is a lot of power struggle going on in the home when the man starts to feel threatened by his wife’s success. Men can be egocentric at times. We forgive them for that. After all, as a result of their early empowerment at the expense of the women, they came to believe that they are entitled to the best career choices and positions. Women on the other hand are known to passionately defend what they have worked hard for. If she feels like the man is trying to pull her down, she will retaliate by acting hostile and tougher. It is a fact of life no wonder the common advice to marry at the same level. But i know that there are women who never change irregardless of their achievements and whatever field they are in. Women who have since mastered the art of a work-family life balance. Women who are lucky enough to have supportive and understanding husbands. Not men preoccupied with trying to prove that they still have got the upper hand. Trust me, if you are constantly subconsciously fighting a woman because of her achievements and the threat it poses to you, she will get into defense mode and whatever it is you have together won’t work.

Ask yourself why a sizeable number of highly successful women are surprisingly single mothers. It’s cuz the men in their lives at the time when they were climbing the career ladder started a war of trying to prove themselves better. When the woman went into defense mode, the man branded her a difficult person incapable of being a wife. They dragged each other to court, she asked for maintenance being as empowered as she is, he cried foul because she was supposedly already successful and could afford herself and her kids without him, she claimed it was his responsibility as a father to his kids, now they don’t see eye to eye. And the man now claims that women `grow horns’ the minute they start to make big bucks. He is now looking for one who isn’t self-motivated or highly ambitious.

Dear man, women fear the thought of being dragged back to the dark days when the woman’s place was in the kitchen. They know that they are empowered at the moment and they are constantly fighting to protect that title. What you men should do is secure your title as being `long empowered’, embrace the change, act supportive of her career choice, understand her schedule as long as she balances it with her wife and motherhood status and forget the stereotyping. As a modern woman, i can hardly choose a career with a future husband in mind. I choose a career i’m passionate about knowing that i have the right to do so because i’m no longer limited by society. It is the same thing to men when making career choices and along the way we meet our compatibles who are destined to marry us. Whoever ties a career choice to what kind of a wife a woman will make is desperately trying to prove that he is better without actually working to secure his `long empowered’ title. He only comes out as lame and stereotypical.