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Get The Stone Out Of Your Shoe

Published 8 years ago
By Forbes Woman Africa

It has since dawned on some in the tourism industry that unless they use their stature and influence to lobby their governments to do more to protect the species and by extension, their business, they stand to lose out. Their argument is that if there are no rhinos to see, they cannot sell the Big Five to potential tourists.

The world’s most powerful women should be getting into something that some might say is not exactly their business: the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of women less powerful than themselves.

There are businesswomen’s associations that help to fund halfway stations where women recovering from or fleeing their abusive partners can learn business principles that can help them be independent once they leave their tormentors. Such associations should lobby their governments to improve conditions of girls and women and tighten punitive measures for those who hurt, abuse and marginalize women.

The logic is simple. The more women do not need to depend on men, the less they will tolerate abusive men. The more women there are in business, especially if they are confident in their femininity, the greater the chances of the feminine motif becoming the norm in the business world and in the executive suite.

It is not enough to assume that being a woman means you can understand the plight of a woman in an abusive relationship. Even if you did, unless there are programs in place in your  business that recognize the debilitating effects of patriarchy on productive capacity and therefore the bottom line, you are no better than those who see or hear no evil.

I am not holding my breath that business is ready for such a leap of faith in the interest of abused women and marginalized girls. Far too many still go with the logic that the business of business is business. Everything else is someone else’s business – the preacher, the teacher or the politician.

I continue hearing about how women boast about what they have had to go through, implying that others who want to attain the same status must also grin, bear and get on with it. And still some insist that having a female boss is better for one’s self-worth.

I don’t know if it is just me, but one hardly sees powerful women – except in their capacity as government officials or public representatives – become champions of the anti-woman abuse movement. The rest of the time, it is the less glamorous women in non-governmental organizations, academia or in the arts, who are left to make the big deal of this social scourge and drain to the economy.

It seems to me that powerful women do not want to risk their power reputation by associating themselves with what they might see as being weak or the doormat at home.

I can see why some women would not want to contaminate their reputation as tough task masters who drive a hard bargain by confessing to have been pushed around like British TV personality Nigella Lawson. But it is the recognition that there are many other Nigellas and that businesswomen’s associations can become socially relevant and inspirational to the women who do not yet own a power suit or have not yet been invited for high tea.

There is also the economic impact of women who are prevented from earning a living and being financially independent by abusive partners, or who are forced to divert their earnings into areas that are not as productive as they could have been.

Women should not be forced to buy make-up only if the intention is to hide the marks and scars on their faces if they could be investing that money into areas that grow their wealth and independence.

There is also the denialism in the top echelons of business that makes top businesswomen or executives pretend that abuse is only suffered by others with a less net worth than themselves or who hold mundane jobs.

Some may say that I am blaming the victim by not addressing the patriarchal power that places women in these situations. Perhaps I am. What is clear to me though is that it is those who feel and have known the discomfort of a stone in the shoe, who are best placed to remove the stone. Demanding that whoever placed the stone there remove it, might slow you down.

The stories we hear about women needing to juggle being wives, partners, parents and business executives should not be used as a demand for sympathy or a self-pat on the back. It should be a catalyst for change that is driven by those who understand the pain and unnecessary hurdles it has brought and ensure it does not happen to other women.

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Related Topics: #Businesswomen, #Champions, #Economic, #February 2013, #Governments, #Industry, #Tourism.