By Nomaqhawe Ndlovu
This week Kylie Jenner was named the youngest billionaire ever, at 21 years old.
Her company Kylie Cosmetics is valued at 1 billion dollars as of 5th March 2019. This is remarkable for a company that was just opened in 2015. As a member of the famous Kardashian clan, Kylie is said to have been extremely savvy in her approach to business. She managed to simultaneously leverage her family’s fame, her personal social media following and exceptional marketing skills with her ‘momanger’ Kris Jenner’s talent for investment. This has managed to get her dubbed, however controversially as the youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire.
I think it’s only natural to wonder where the next Kylie will come from. Could she be Zimbabwean?
Might she come from the usual gender equality superstar states like Norway or Rwanda? Or perhaps somewhere middle of the road like Lesotho or China or more impressive still somewhere really hard to be a woman like Yemen or the Democratic Republic of Congo?
More and more data is coming out to support the fact that investing in women, in particular, their health and education generates long-term economic benefits, with the potential to significantly raise the quality of life of the whole country.
Today is International Women’s Day and the theme is #BalanceforBetter.
This is our time to examine not only the policies in our countries but also our own attitudes and biases that affect our progress in this regard.
Currently, in Zimbabwe, we have 32% of women aged 20 to 24 years who were first married or in union before age 18.
35% of women aged 15-49 years have experienced intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.
Not to mention as of 2014 the maternal mortality ratio was 614 deaths per 100 000 live births which is relatively high compared with the other countries in the region.
Taking all this into consideration it is tempting to feel discouraged. It is not all doom and gloom however, for instance, the adult female (aged 15 and older) literacy rate as of 2014 was 88.24%!
There are many initiatives both locally and internationally that are put in place to keep women healthy and safe and give them the tools to become productive members of society. For example in Bulawayo, The Women’s Institute for Leadership Development(WILD) seeks to invest in building and strengthening the power of women’s involvement in leadership and decision-making, both in rural and urban communities of Zimbabwe.
Initiatives such as Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and even the government’s own Women’s Affairs Ministry do amazing work every day to uplift women across many communities.
So often people make a call to action without actually giving you a clear blueprint to apply. This is especially apparent with factors to do with gender equality. Fortunately, the Balance for Better Campaign took this into careful consideration. They outlined for us distinctly how we could implement this. They suggested several things including calling out gender stereotypes when you see them, taking children or friends to women’s sporting matches, buying from women-owned businesses more and donating time or resource to a women’s charity or initiative. Many people both male and female already do this but to truly effect change it should become appreciably more widespread.
They also suggested mentoring a woman and helping her build her networks, reflecting on how fair and equal your actions and comments when interacting with women are and most importantly, I think noticing and questioning when women are not present or equal. These tips apply to both men and women, as it’s not about women over men but about looking out for each other and trying to make the world comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.
This International Women’s Day let’s celebrate women by letting them be who they are and encouraging them to become who they were meant to be.