As we celebrate Women’s Month, we again need to admit that one of the most significant deterrents to women’s entry into positions of power and influence is embedded in the hard-to-crack patriarchal system and in women’s own attitudes.
We set our sights too low, sometimes lack the confidence to recognise our own self-worth, do not take risks and prefer not to challenge situations – which we could easily muster – for fear of failure or criticism.
Too many of us don’t understand, recognise and realise our true value, self-worth and potential.
And, as a result, some women select not fight and walk away as they do not have the strength to put up a fight. Some enter into this often bitter battle and that is how they manage to succeed. Sadly, some get scarred in the process.
Women need to realise their self-empowerment, self-worth and self-esteem.
After many declarations for gender parity – such as the adoption of the Women’s Charter 65 years ago, the adoption of the Women’s Charter for Effective Equality 25 years ago and 24 years after our country signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and ratified the Convention on the Elimination on all forms of Discrimination against Women – it is time to realise that, as women, we are on our own and must define our path.
Our country is a beacon of hope for women’s rights and let us applaud those who continue to champion this valuable cause.
Indeed, women have been rising to leadership positions in business, government and philanthropy by making daring and unconventional moves and we commend them.
Granted, highly ambitious women are moving across companies and industries, making big leaps with each change, and repositioning themselves for opportunities that allow them to gain further experience.
Not only are we at a time when demographic growth patterns are changing rapidly, but we are at a time when women are playing a far more important role in social, political and economic spheres than ever before.
But women can do more by realising their own self-worth, rather than depending on men to impartially afford them opportunities to maximise their potential.
I serve on several corporate boards with women. But I still hear some occasionally say: “I feel unheard, I feel silenced.”
I encourage them to voice strong opinions and to demand to be heard. Even if theirs is the sole voice.
Why do I believe that we need to concentrate more on self-empowerment, optimising our self-esteem and realising our self-worth?
Because we live in world where we need to push above our weight and not allow other women to feel insufficient and intimidated.
We are valuable members of society. We are important. We are a valuable part of this world.
Our presence is powerful, as was seen in the liberation struggle when women in their masses came together in unity to rebel against an oppressive system.
The general meaning of self-empowerment is taking control of one’s own life, setting goals and making positive choices.
It means understanding our strengths and weaknesses and having positive belief in ourselves.
So how do women empower themselves and realise their self-worth? It all begins with positive self-esteem.
If a women has that, she feels empowered and worthy, she feels comfortable with who she is, confident in the work she delivers, her sense of professionalism, community and societal involvement.
When a woman is empowered, she recognises her self-worth and value and asserts herself as an equal in personal, social and business relationships.
Self-empowerment and realisation of self-worth is very important in our lives as women, whether at work, at home and in social circles.
It enhances our understanding of what we truly bring and deliver to this world.
I know that some people may ask: What is the difference between self-empowerment and self-entitlement.
Self-entitlement entails putting oneself above everyone else and thinking one is better than others.
Self-empowerment and self-worth is all about recognising that among the masses, one is valuable and belongs. It is also an inclusive approach.
When a woman feels empowered and happy with her self-worth, she will be clear about her values, she will recognise what is acceptable behaviour, how she likes to be treated and spoken to and she has the courage to speak out when necessary.
When a woman feels empowered and happy with herself, she does not need validation to prove her value.
To feel self-empowered and worthy, women need to take charge of their lives.
My personal theme for this Women’s Month is “outdoing myself” – which means that when a woman has gone beyond her usual efforts and has bettered her standards and exceeded her own expectations, she has certainly empowered herself with that attitude.
Let us take heed of what Estée Lauder once said: “No one ever became a success without taking chances … One must be able to recognise the moment and seize it without delay.”
Let’s go for it girls!
Mokgokong is chairperson of the Afrocentric Group, owners of Medscheme and other healthcare providers
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