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CAREER

Matatu Musings: Let’s Water One Another

There is enough success to go around

BY Joan Thatiah

Mar 09, 2021, 10:53 AM

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Women are their own worst enemies - you must have had this phrase thrown at you. It is usually said in an accusatory tone, often by a woman with a sneer on her face.

I have been on the receiving end of it many times and it doesn’t bother me because I know it’s not true. What bothers me is the situations in which it is said. 

The last time someone told me that, I was looking at paintings at an art display at Garden City Mall. A woman present insisted that even if I don’t want to buy anything, I should at least buy a painting from a female artist. When I became hesitant, she reminded me that women are their own worst enemies.

 I refused to be blackmailed into spending a small fortune on something I didn’t want and I bet this woman went venting to her friends on their next chama meeting about how women don’t support other women.

It’s interesting how deep-seated this narrative is. When you are job hunting, you pray that you do not land a job where your next boss is a woman because you have heard that female bosses are bad. That if you have one, she will not lift a finger to help you and may even sabotage you so that she can remain as the only woman at the top.

Our Misinterpretation

The problem is that we have mistaken women supporting other women to mean that a woman must support another woman regardless of the circumstances. That you should buy things from other women or vote for them in elections based only on their gender.

This misinterpretation is why you will be admonished for openly disapproving of another woman’s behavior, for criticizing a female artist, or when you support a man in an argument. 

Women supporting other women can take many forms. It can mean encouraging other women, it can mean helping women around you stay accountable to themselves or simply showing up for them, willing them to go on. Supporting other women does not mean looking the other way when they err on buying substandard things from them because of the shared gender.

Women Do Support Other Women

The truth is that women do help each other. Nothing is said about the tens of women’s networks that we have in Nairobi alone where female professionals and women in business meet to trade tips on how to smash glass ceilings and to nurture businesses. Nothing is said about the public support that women in the plus-sized online community have for each other. 

Many of those already up there go out of their way to foster the careers of other women. It just isn’t as readily broadcasted as instances when women aren’t supportive of other women.

Why We Need To Support Other Women 

This belief that women don’t help each other is working against us. It is hindering our progress. If you go through life believing that women do not help other women, you will always have a chip on your shoulder and you might miss out on great career opportunities just because you are apprehensive about having a female boss.

It is a jungle out there so you will need to compete even against women. While at it, learn to celebrate other women’s achievements be they personal or professional. I believe that there is enough success out there to go around.