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Are Female Leaders Assessed Differently?

19/07/2016 11:02 | Updated 19 July 2016

After 26 years a female has taken up residence at number 10 Downing Street, Theresa May has recently announced that she is the new leader of the Conservative Party. This news comes after Hilary Clinton announced that she has the Democratic nomination and may be heading for the White House come November, and lets not forget Serena Williams who is heading for Hall of Fame glory in tennis.

"Who runs the World - Girls?" Did Beyoncé predict this? Is this the answer to every gender equality prayer? The tide appears to be changing for women. Are we heading for a renaissance where women will no longer be required to address questions on womanhood prior to being assessed on merit? Perhaps, the type of women we are, speaks to the type of leaders we will be. The problem however, is the yardstick used to assess womanhood.

What's interesting is there appears to be more articles written about the fact that Theresa May is a woman without any children rather than articles on her stance on immigration following her long stint as Home Secretary. This follows the comment made by her former opponent, Andrea Leadsom who felt that she had an "edge" on May due to the fact that she is a mother.

Leadsom's status as a parent would never have been called into question had her opponent been a man. Is the subliminal narrative that women are supposed to satisfy marriage and motherhood before taking up "extra-circular activities" like the leadership of the Conservative party? This presents two, immediate issues for me; one, we continue to send a message to women everywhere that you haven't achieved success until you have become a wife or a mother; and two, the female leader in question is no longer assessed on merit but rather her personal status.

I recently became a mother; my son is beautiful, he teaches me something new about myself everyday. Motherhood is by far the most empowering experience of my life to date, for which I am grateful. I do not believe however, that it is another brownie point acquired to be used as leverage in my professional career. Surely, the multifaceted nature of womanhood cannot be reduced to this. Everyone has a unique purpose; women should be free to pursue their passions and purpose without the weight of societal values placed on womanhood. Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in recently announcing that she also has become new mother summed up this issue perfectly saying:

"I just feel like we live in an age when women are supposed to perform pregnancy...we don't expect don't expect fathers to perform fatherhood."

Actress Jennifer Aniston has also recently offered her voice the issue:

"We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies."

The narrative and stories we tell has everything to do with what we perceive a successful woman to be. The exposure of such stories will dispel ignorance and bring further understanding; perhaps the story of a woman who desperately wants to be a mother but is struggling with infertility; or the story of the young lady who chooses not to have any children at all, or the single woman owning her career and being content with her life.

Hopefully these stories will reveal that the archaic yardstick used to assess the "perfect woman". Working with the W TALK Network, the content showcases these stories, the stories of everyday women. However, I believe it reaches beyond the digital media space and into our communities where women are bold enough to step outside of the box and share their own stories because together, we can change the narrative.

So, will Theresa May be a great leader? Honestly, I am not completely sure. One thing I am sure of however, is I will assessing her leadership on how well she leads the Country during these uncertain times. My assessment will be based on her politics as opposed to her status on motherhood. We need to offer an alternative narrative. You can watch the new WTALK Network trailer here.

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