Gestalt: an organised whole that is perceived to be more than the sum of its parts.
One of the projects that I’m helping out with at the moment is the new Women in Leadership Programme at the Graduate School of Business here in Cape Town. It’s a premium 10day session for developing seriously powerful women. The kind of women who will change the world in some way.
But given that I’ve never been supportive of “women’s networks”, because I think that in the same way that the too-hot-to-touch Black Journalists issue is divisive; groups that are delineated by that that we can’t change like race, age or gender (okay, maybe without major surgery) rather than by passion, profession or play, only serves to separate.
But heaven knows I’m wrong about a lot of things, and this may be one of them. (I think my early opinion may have been swayed by the horror of going to an all-girls convent school – which only served to make me more wary and confused by intricate female politics. Teenage girls are one of the most formidable forces of nature and should never be underestimated!).
Watched Isabel Allende’s simply wonderful TED talk, and decided to revisit my prejudice. I started paying attention to where women lead best, and unsurprisingly collaboration, communities and networking are strongholds where women flourish. It’s also where the terrifying “tall poppy syndrome” is rife though. It’s the force that subtly slams those who rise too fast, and killing the pioneering ones is the most efficient method to maintain mediocrity. And slowed success.
But that’s a subject all on its own & not one for now: for now I’d love to share & celebrate the extraordinary value (doing good AND doing good business) created by two powerful African women leaders using the collaborative model.
First (an icon of the environmental realm and Nobel Laureate) Dr Wangari Maathai whose recent feat of enabling the planting of a BILLION trees through the UN and her Green Belt Movement floored me, this hasn’t been cheered or emulated enough. She is utterly phenomenal and worth getting a dose of brave inspiration from.
And happily for us in SA, wonder.woman Sizani Ngubane (pictured right at the Women’s Global Green Action Network in Mexico) who founded the Rural Women’s Movement in Kwazulu Natal, mobilised over 500 women’s groups to promote sustainable development, economic empowerment and participation in policy.making. The movement has approximately 50 000 members and growing strong.
Thank heavens for these forces for nature, powerful women who believe against current models of tried and tested, safe routes and naysayers that the improbable can indeed be achieved with clear vision and mass collaboration. Rock on!
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