International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance which has been an issue in many countries. The first International Women’s Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage. Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is key.
However, ascending to the leadership of a giant organization takes more than just being a woman and is no mean achievement. It requires a lot of patience, hard work and discipline among other character traits. To say the least, Ms. Anne Karanja, the managing director of Postbank is an embodiment of these traits. “There is no silver bullet to success,” Ms. Karanja says. “I am passionate about whatever I set out to do and I always strive for excellence,” she adds.
Many employees aspire to become leaders of their respective organizations but only a few manage to do so. Once at the helm, a leader is expected to have some qualities in order to be effective. “A good leader should be able to steer his or her team to success by being visionary and setting the strategic direction for the organization,” advises Ms. Karanja. “
Indeed only a few individuals are able to successfully rise through the ranks and become leaders of their respective organizations. “For women, the journey to leadership is even more challenging compared to that one of men,” says Dr. Jane Kiringai who is the Chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation.“Personally, I have had to go back to university to further my studies twice, while married with young children,” she adds.
“One of the key lessons that I have learnt in my career journey is that one has to know very clearly where his or her career is destined,” Dr. Kiringai observes. To this end, she has picked an important lesson from Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “ Covey says that you have to begin with the end in mind and in that respect, until you are clear on your vision of success, then you should not start the journey,” she avers. “Never go into any task blindly no matter how minor it might seem to be; always endeavour to find out what the end result will be.” She concludes.
This is also the thought shared by Koki Muiya who is the managing director and founder of Shaya Advertising. Koki’s advice to young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs is simple. They should get started at an early age. “Young girls who are still in schools and colleges should be encouraged to get the right skills and dream big about succeeding in business,” she avers.
“They can set up the business in a small way but grow it into a giant with time, by embracing big dreams and ideas,” she adds.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8, yet the global campaign theme continues all year long to encourage action.
This year’s theme #BalanceforBetter campaign runs all year long. It doesn’t end on International Women’s Day. The campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, with #BalanceforBetter activity reinforced and amplified all year.