16But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. — Exodus 9:16
If you want something to be said, tell a man; if you want something to be done, tell a woman, Dame Margaret Thatcher, first and former British Prime Minister.
This week, two statements lead me to unpack hyperboles to drive home the need for some opinionates to fall back on the stereotyping of women as well as the under-appreciation of their achievements.
In the just finished celebration of Women’s Month, among the numerous global events that took place are Tanzania lost a president and a woman ascended to the position, and two Malawian women (former president Joyce Banda and United Kingdom-based research scientist Dr. Alice Mbewe) received the Future Focus Female Icon 2021 awards.
While Tanzania’s elevation of President Samia Suluhu Hassan brought much joy around the world, a media outlet thought it wise to point out that although Suluhu Hassan had risen to the post of first citizen, she still humbles herself and bows to her husband.
The second onslaught to women came from a colleague who, upon reading the banner announcing Banda and Mbewe’s award nominations, asked what have they achieved? The banner only had the titles.
Turning to the issue of the submissive Tanzanian female president and the lack of it in Malawi, my response is that it is total lies from the pit of a wounded male spouse! For starters, Malawi had its first female president Banda (fondly referred to as JB) and there are countless others that humble themselves to their husbands. There is retired Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa, former Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and others that are the opposite of the picture painted in the media post.
By the way, submission is not meant for show to outsiders but within one’s home. How did they see Suluhu Hassan bowing to her husband?
Every time one mentions the name JB, a myriad of images flow through the mind, among them that in her first year of office in 2012, she met the crème de la crème of global leaders like Queen Elizabeth II, the first United States of America African-American President Barack Obama and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar President Aung San Suu Kyi. During the same year, Banda, unlike her predecessor, whizzed through Africa and rounded up support in cash and kind that included cows from Botswana. To date, JB has received 50 international awards.
As for Mbewe, although a little less known, her work in the medical field in the UK is laudable. Both spoke exuberantly with vivaciousness and great conviction in the work they have chosen to exert their energies.
In accepting her award, JB paused to congratulate and celebrate President Suluhu Hassan. She then turned to the pandemic, citing that there are 39 million out of school children in Africa and that sadly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nine million children had dropped out of school. Without mincing words, the former Malawi leader informed participants in the hour-long virtual meeting that one percent of the world’s rich people have become richer because of the pandemic, adding the West has a moral obligation to own the recovery of the pandemic.
JB paid tribute to women, adding that she has spent her entire adult life trying to uplift women in various areas. She also provided tips for young women to succeed.
On her part, Mbewe encouraged young female leaders to understand their life purpose, saying doing so enables one to navigate through and have a meaningful life.
Other awardees were Trinidad and Tobago President Paula-May Weeks, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and former UN Women president minister Penelope Beckles.
The Global Female Icon Awards 2021 was hosted by Crystal Camejo, Future Focus Empowerment Institute International’s founder.