Author: Akhona S. Rozani
“Mosadi o tswara thipa ka bogaleng” is a Setswana proverb which translates to “a woman holds the knife by the blade”. Women are often expected to carry the burdens of society at great expense to themselves.
ROCKBlue established the WULUW (Women’s Urban Leadership in Utility WASH) initiative as a means of empowering and promoting women leadership in the very male-dominated industry of water utility services. On the path to fulfilling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) – gender equality and empower all women and girls, and UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) for access to clean water and sanitation – the importance of women in leadership positions should not be overlooked.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, and there is an emphasis on having women champions from different backgrounds contributing to an inclusive workplace. The WULUW initiative dovetails with this by aiming to foster personal growth, leadership and confidence among future female leaders within urban municipalities and utilities.
WULUW has dynamic goals and has established activities to attain them. The main activities include:
- collecting and publicizing informative and motivational stories about female leadership in urban WASH – largely using social media to both educate aspiring future female leaders, but also to motivate and convince key stakeholders to support this initiative;
- mentorship between existing female leaders and aspiring future female leaders through various methods including workshops or mentorship circles where leaders share how they reached their current positions;
- professional career guidance and networking for aspiring future female leaders;
- connecting aspiring future female leaders with educational opportunities and resources; and
- education of men in the value female leaders and supporting their ascension into these role.
The challenge posed to women in positions of leadership, especially in the urban WASH sector, is to pay it forward. The struggle has to end somewhere, and this can only be achieved if we as women lift each other up!