Checkin’ in at your hotel at 2 am in the morning in Dar es Salaam and finding a bar of the best Dutch chocolate waiting for you at the reception, is just such an amazing way to start your work week.
Meeting millionaire female traders at Kariaako market in Dar es Salaam and smallholder farmers in Embu county in Kenya last week has been a humbling experience. It makes me reconsider my decisions. My take on life. My need for luxury. My complacency? These women are prepared to reinvest everything they earn into their family, their business and into their respective communities.
As much as my children believe I give away a lot of the family capital, little do they know that it still does not add up to the 10% I believe we should all share once we have our basic needs covered. Which brings me to the question – what are basic needs? Is it my morning cappuccino overlooking the Atlantic on my way to work? Is it the massage I indulge in occasionally? Do I share enough of the incredibly lucky hand that fate has dealt me? Most of all, do I do enough for my sisters globally?
Following my passion, unlocking the potential of women and girls to create a better world, is what I want people to remember about me. That I made a difference. A difference to the lives of others. Other women in particular. They move me. Their bravery. Their stamina. Their struggle. Their sacrifice. Their resilience. Their power. Their natural contribution to society. At the same time, I think the power these women demonstrate sometimes defeats their purpose. It defeats their purpose as they look after everyone except themselves.
Is it then my role to remind women to look after themselves as much as they look after everyone else? Is it to remind girls that good is good enough and that they no longer have to prove themselves because they were born female? Surely, I am good at enjoying life, doing the things I believe need to be done and not give in to pressure, whether real or imaginary. Choosing to thrive not to succeed. Choosing to contribute not to compete. Choosing to celebrate not to dash on. Can it be that simple? Am I allowed to do what I do best? Having others believe in themselves without losing themselves? Then again who do I need permission from?
Passion comes at a cost – as it can become all consuming. Power comes with a cost as the responsibilities might seem crushing. Can partnership be the answer? We need to remind ourselves that we are not alone. We can build on each other. We can trust our sisterhood.
I guess this blog turned out as a somewhat emotional reflection and introspection. But guess what? I love emotions. I love to observe. I love to be moved and I love to move others. I believe together we can create this better world for all who yearn for it.
Let’s remember to welcome, support and encourage one another, whether it involves great-bars-of-chocolate-at-reception-desks or not.