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Each for Equal: Women on Boards Zim

Cynthia Tapera

An equal world is an enabled world.

I always say a woman alone has power; collectively we have impact. Traditionally, we have been taught to be competitive with one another, because there was such a scarcity of jobs at the top. It is so clear that this strategy does not work. The truth is that raising each other up and channeling the power of collaboration is truly how we will change the equation. Now that so many more women are entering the workplace, we are finding our voice. We are also building circles of trust with one another because we may be experiencing similar hurdles and have each other’s backs.

We need to reverse the stereotype that women do not support other women. There is research that shows women in particular benefit from collaboration over competition. This year the Women on Boards Zimbabwe (WoBZ), a brainchild of the Institute of Directors Zimbabwe (IoDZ), joins the rest of the world in observance of the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations running under the theme “Each for Equal”. The theme is a call to action for women to support each other.

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained: “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

I always say that the sum of the parts is greater than the individuals, the theme #EachforEqual calls for collective action. We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society and economy. Collectively, we can make change happen.

Collectively, we can each help to create a gender-equal world. We can all choose to be #EachforEqual. Collective individualism is not a women’s issue, it is a business issue. It is about an organisation being okay with an individual succeeding. It is about going beyond simply reconciling individualism and actually harnessing it for collective growth.

The heart of the women’s movement was and is about supporting women to achieve positive results — and that support needs to come from both men and women alike. However, it starts with us women, we need to support each other and show our male counterparts how we want to be supported. It is common to hear women talk about how poorly they are being treated by men, but what about how women at work treat other women? Women speak of wanting equal pay, equal treatment, and so on. Yet, if we really want to achieve equal status to our male counterparts as women, then it needs to begin with us; women need to support women.
As the saying goes: there is a special place in heaven for women who support each other.

IWD celebrations present a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the different sectors of the economy. The WoBZ presents the case for gender diversity in leadership across organisations in Zimbabwe by directly empowering women and by bringing a gender perspective to all boards, this ensures a more equitable, sustainable future for all. 2020-2030 has been declared a decade of action and as such the IoDZ, through its WoBZ initiative, has joined the conversation and will continue to actively celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for boardroom equality.

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-equal world is crucial in accelerating sustainable development.In the spirit of a balanced world, put your arms out front and strike the #EachforEqual pose in support of challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and celebrating other women’s achievements.

Individually, we are notes, together we are a symphony.

Tapera is a senior marketing executive and chairperson of the Marketing and Membership Committee of the IoDZ.

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