Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

Remember when Zimbabweans told Grace Mugabe that ‘leadership is not sexually transmitted?’ 

There is no need to wonder why such a comment is easily thrust at a woman while a male counterpart would without difficulty be applauded for their hard work and sleepless nights – patriarchy.

Society has been constructed in such a way that the successful woman has automatically slept her way to the top; right from her education, political career to that top management position. Worse still, it is the successful woman’s body that is going to be used to bring her down. I am reminded of the Ugandan government chief whip Hon. Ruth Nakabirwa who was accused of distracting male parliamentarians with her cleavage. How unfortunate! What can I say about the countless women in leadership who are sexually harassed to kill their esteem?!

Today we host a Tuwezeshe Fellow, Esther Apio on our blog. This is what she has to say on sexually transmitted leadership and the way forward as feminists.


I have admired and met many successful women who have greatly inspired me to be a feminist. The problem though is that most people believe that these women did not get to the top through their legitimate hard work but by giving their bodies in exchange for superior positions. 


Well, I vividly remember one woman in her early 40s who asked me to help her daughter with some valuable information about a company I was working with. Her daughter was very passionate about journalism despite having papers good enough to fetch her a Human Resource job. The lady’s biggest worry was that her daughter would first have to attend ''carpet interviews'' (read as sex with the boss) to get the job. I was shocked at her perception but then again, I could not blame her. After all, it is what everybody thinks. I am convinced that this does not only happen in media companies. It happens all the time and everywhere, not to be confused with love affairs that stem from workplaces. Interestingly, not all the ladies who are subjected to carpet interviews willingly consent to this demeaning act, but they would rather give in than wallow in joblessness. 


On a lighter note, I would like to commend the brave women who value their sanctity enough to resist such patronising acts. Thumbs up because pinnacle leadership is not sexually obtained or transmitted. As the New Year starts, I am calling on all feminists to stand up against sexual abuse at places of work. I also remind the women who bow down to these evil that acquiring a position through sex doesn't drive you towards transformational leadership. 

Men see no potential or value in women who sexually acquire their positions;  matter of fact if someday the boss someday gets fed up of your "honeypot", he will have no problem sacking you after all you did not competitively and competently assume your job and there is nothing else that is good about you.


It's time we rise up, fellow feminists and defend the great role that women play in shaping the dynamics of leadership today.