Since the book launched, I have met people with who I got into raging arguments around Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In over. There are a handful of people who are against some of the principles espoused in the text but for the most part, a lot of people agree that while not everything applies to everyone, there are a few valuable take-aways.
In fact, only until you have a conversation with someone about their moment of ‘Leaning In’ does the truth hit home – as women we are leaning in a lot more now, just not necessarily defining it in those terms. The battle is far from over though. How do you bridge the gap between being a follower and being more assertive, the latter being what you need in most cases to lean in?
If we had a Kenyan dictionary, no doubt Kenyans would vote that ‘devolution’ be defined as ‘the modern route to personal wealth and enrichment through all manner of unsavory channels ’. This definition only applies to you if you are sitting at the right side of the table.
Of course, if you’re one of those people who gets into a raging argument with the hapless teller every time you shop because your tally seems to be creeping higher by the day, you’re welcome to replace ‘wealth and enrichment’ with ‘poverty’.
Half of the African Union’s agenda for 2015 focuses on the empowerment of women: increased participation in social, economic and political fields. As a continent, we have a long way to go in ensuring that women’s causes do not get lost in what is now a euphemism for next era African development.
If, as a woman you continuously feel besieged by the system, beliefs and attitudes whenever you try to disrupt the status quo, then you’re not alone. Women all over the world, even in the developed world still struggle with the stereotypes that challenge equality. The consolation is, even those who have conquered their fear still find themselves battling with a crisis of confidence every so often. The key is in using this fear, not as a way of paralyzing you but as a way of tuning into your gut.
A few years ago I visited Mauritius. I was especially excited to draw parallels between Kenya and this ‘star and key’ of the Indian Ocean, so called due to its strategic trade position. With a population of under 1.3 million people I realize I was stretching it, but one of my interests was the commercial success behind the sugar industry.
At the time, Kenya was struggling under the weight of an ailing sugar sector, aided by industrial inefficiencies, sugar cane poaching and illegal imports. Though the outlook was grim – Kenya was producing sugar at twice the cost of say, Egypt – we were unanimous in believing the industry could and would be turned around.