As I reflect on International Women’s Day, I am thinking about what it takes to be a woman leader in today’s culture. Lately, activists have been advocating a lot about gender equality with an inclination toward creating space for women at the table. Slowly but surely the message is being heard and in some spaces we have begun to see an improvement in the women representation in key leadership and governance positions and conversations around pay-equity are also starting to get louder. This is well appreciated.

As we find our respective spaces at the table, we need to recognise that many of our greatest strengths lie in kindness, virtue and in our ability to nurture, and we should be comfortable with bringing them to the table. However, at times we tend to overlook and abandon these strengths when we hear ideas around women rising. In some circles, the notion of women rising has been taken to mean that women and men are equal and the danger of this notion becomes apparent when we see women trying to prove that they are the same as men. Equal does not mean ‘same’. Men and women are indeed equal but they are not the same. That is why when God created the first man He said ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’ Women and men are created to coexist and complement one another other. 

Women rising should not be about displacing men but rather it should be about women being free to exude their innate traits and being allowed to express who they really are. The culture that we live in has done well in helping women to be seen, to be counted and to be heard and this is something that we welcome with gratitude. Many young women have found their voice as a result. However, as we rise it is important for us to be clear on what rising looks like and what it means to us. Now that we have found our voice, the question is how are we using it?

Does finding our voice mean that we will silence the men?

Are we going to be women who rise and in the process become rivals with men?

Now that we are finally being seen, does it mean we will turn a blind eye to the plight of our sons?

Now that we are being counted does it mean we will divide the purpose that God has set for men and women?

Together as men and women, we have the power of dominion. There is no power in division. The world is a better place if we walk in agreement, if we are united and if we are aligned. Men and women are allies, we are not enemies. We should not see each other as rivals.

Dear woman on the rising, use your voice to speak life, hope and love into the future. Use your voice to create a future that is not characterized by women dominating men nor men oppressing women. Rather use your voice to create a future that sees men and women, walking side by side confronting the works of the enemy.

As I conclude, I would like to draw you to the story of Deborah and Barak, leaders who worked hand in hand to defeat the army of Sisera a fearsome Canaanite general. Even we as men and women in the kingdom can work side by side to come against the lies of culture that seeks to divide us.

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Cynthia Mabaso Chimanikire

This article was written by Cynthia Mabaso Chimanikire. Cynthia is the co-founder of New Gates and heads the organisation’s operations and learning strategies. Prior to joining New Gates full-time, Cynthia worked at the Central Bank of Eswatini as the Skills Development Consultant for the Bank’s Academy. Cynthia is married to Berven and together raises three male leaders in their home Ethan, Zamar and Joseph. Cynthia’s is passionate about discipleship in families and organisations. Her mantra is “Raising Leaders for tomorrow”.