What makes us stand out as women

by Priscilla Taiwo

Attention ladies!

There are several misconceptions about being female, whether you’re a teenager, a young adult or middle aged.

Here in Africa, there are designated roles perceived for women alone – some consistently debated over the years. As some of these things try to depict morals and values in the society, they have somehow influenced the mentality we have.

Let us briefly note key female figures in some African countries. They are women who braved storms and rose to become influential. They are who they are, not because life was a bed of roses, but because they wanted to be a legend to generations coming behind them.

Meaza Ashenafi

Ethiopia’s first female Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi is a notable trailblazer particularly in legal activism through her work with the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), which she co-founded with other like-minded young female lawyers.

As the only female graduate of her class year at the Addis Ababa University’s law school, Ms. Ashenafi went on to work as a criminal court judge, where she observed how the laws discriminated against women. She also co-founded with other businesswomen, Enat Bank which is Ethiopia’s first bank created by female-majority shareholders.

Emma Theofelus

One of Africa’s youngest politicians, Emma Inamutila Theofelus was born on 28th March 1996. She earned a legal degree from the University of Namibia before being appointed to public office as a member of the Democratic Party.

In March 2020, she became Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology. As such, Honourable Theofelus worked with the Namibia’s COVID-19 pandemic prevention team to develop and implement public communication strategies.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Celebrated as Forbes African of the Year in 2020, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Director General of The World Trade Organization (WTO). She was named as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders by Fortune (2015) and one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes for four consecutive years. She graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor degree in Economics.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has more than 30 years of experience as an economist and international development expert. She was Nigeria’s first female Finance Minister (a position that she held twice) and worked for The World Bank for 25 years, where she attained the No. 2 position of Managing Director.

What does this tell us?

Discovering our path and purpose has everything to do with our decisions and choices. These women could have held on to limiting beliefs that they were “just female”. But we have to acknowledge that:

We are not meant for the kitchen alone.

We are not restricted to the bedroom alone.

We are not made for chores alone.

Many times, it’s easy to fall into the trap of entitlement where women feel that we deserve to be taken care of by our male counterparts…and why? Because some of us believe we’re so fragile and should be taken care of. That’s great! It’s a good princess dream, but being a woman is beyond the role of waiting on a man. There is also something about YOU that you can lend to the world.

You can touch lives

There is a voice in you.

There is a dream in you that waits to be awakened.

There is a purpose in you that is beyond having a ring on your finger.

There is a reason why you were born.

There is a career to pursue.

In your corner of the world, there is a way you can touch lives. In your school. In your workplace. In your community. In your home. Wherever you find yourself.

Even if you just have a little handiwork, do it with all your might because what defines you is who you are, and the strength of your character, not your gender.

Being a woman is a privilege and a position beyond gender roles.


Priscilla Taiwo is a student of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria. Besides being a student, she is a passionate writer on the topic of personal development. She is also a creative and content writer, and works with AFFIRM, an organisation that promotes women’s welfare and aims to build female leaders.

First image shows a black T-shirt with the words “Selfmade Woman” printed in white. Image credit: lindaikejisblog.com