Hivos’ Women@Work Campaign is partnering in a Kenyan TV reality show with Media Focus on Africa. The show’s aim is to strengthen women’s leadership qualities. It premiered on January 30 in Nairobi, and some 70 women contestants are now vying for the title of Ms President.
“Women lead even without knowing they are leaders,” notes Mendi Njonjo, Hivos East Africa’s regional director. “Many women take on roles at their work place and in communities which would normally be identified as leadership positions. But our patriarchal structure fosters a lack of belief in women’s own value, worth and ability, and this tempers women’s ambitions.”
Ms President is a 26-episode reality television series that features 71 women performing tasks and challenges designed to display their abilities as leaders. One of the challenges will be fully based on Hivos’ “Women’s Empowerment” thematic area.
The contestants will have to earn viewers’ votes and survive judges’ decisions until the last one emerges as “Ms President”. The winner and the 12 finalists will receive additional leadership mentorship opportunities and a surprise award.
The overall objective of the show is to build women’s confidence and skills so they can actually take up leadership and management positions.
This is why Hivos is taking part. “Any attempt to empower women for leadership resonates with Hivos’ mission of addressing inequality and ensuring diversity and social justice. Hence the reason we are pleased to be part of this TV show,” explains Ms Njonjo.
Hivos’ contribution will be training contestants on various skills under the Women@Work Campaign. Some of these are: what constitutes good labor conditions, fair income, and security at the work place? To what extent do workers, especially women, participate in decision-making? Are women’s voices heard and taken into account by workers’ committees and trade unions?
Women@Work’s leadership project
The project provides opportunities to women workers to get an understanding of their leadership role and develop their skills and leadership style. Hivos believes that these empowered women will call out bias when they see it, put themselves forward for elected positions – including in labor unions – dare to voice their opinions, and provide much-needed role models and mentoring for other women and girls.