This week we meet some of Africa’s biggest female names in business technology, we look at how women in India are balancing home and work and we decide whether we should lean in or just make another sandwich!
The August edition of Forbes Africa was only the second to feature women on its cover since its launch in 2011. While Forbes may not think there are enough successful businesswomen in Africa to justify putting more women on their covers, Sparkpr.com beg to differ. Inspired by the cover, they decided to track down some of Africa’s most successful women in business and technology, and found no shortage of amazing ladies. Read the fantastic interviews with Lianne Du Toit of Silicon Cape, Michelle Atagana of Memeburn and Vanessa Clarke of Mobiflock here.
Starting your own business doesn’t just require a good idea, it demands risk taking, investment, networking and a hell of a lot of negotiating to get those ideas off the ground. So how does one do this if they have the drive and ideas, but lack the contacts, finances or even the linguistic skills to communicate their plans. Empowered Women International (EWI) is one organisation that is coming to the rescue in the USA by providing immigrant women, and women of lower-economic standing with the skills and confidence to start their own businesses. Founder Marga Fripp was interviewed by the Huffington Post about the inspiration behind EWI, and the success stories that have come out of it. Check it out here.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just Indian women who work all day and then go home to pick up the kids, clean the toilets, visit gran, get dinner on the table, do the dishes, wash the clothes… you get the point. All over the world this is the norm as more women start their own businesses. So is the new term “mumpreneur” patronising for these women? On the one hand it highlights and dignifies all the additional unpaid work women are expected to do at home, and on the other hand it perpetuates this work by glorifying it, keeping women multitasking in ways that are often unhealthy for them, their businesses and their families. Whatever your opinion on the term, it is one that isn’t going anywhere while women continue to carry the burden of caring for the children. If you’re as curious about the word as I am it is worth looking at this article, which defines the word, the controversy around it, and some of the super strong and super busy women who identify with it.
Opportunities are opening up for girls in India interested in entering business, earning a good income and achieving success in their careers. However, while progress is being made with girls having more access to work and education, the line is still drawn by men who insist on pushing that glass ceiling down as low as they can. Traditional expectations are still being enforced, with women being expected to do the lion’s share of the unpaid domestic work, even when they work 9 to 5. Sangeeta Mall decided to do something to help encourage her Indian sisters by creating Beyond Pink. Beyond Pink is a multi-media platform that showcases stories of “ordinary women who have created their own individuality and space outside home”, while still maintaining certain aspects of their culture within the home. Full story here.
While we’re on the topic of how much paid and unpaid work women do, maybe we should start asking questions about what we’re reading in the media these days. On the one hand we have Sheryl Sandburg telling us to lean in and get heard in the workplace, while on the other, we’re avidly reading Stephanie Smith’s 300 Sandwiches Blog. It seems the world has gone crazy with expectations for women to hit it big in their careers riding sidesaddle with the demand for them to also be perfect, 1950s housewives. If you’re feeling the pressure and want to read more about the broader impact these topics are having on women’s lives and on the political world. have a read of this article.