Kathleen Ndongmo: “Why can’t women make the tough decisions ourselves?” (YNaija Frontpage)

Women are too often the candidate (waiting to be chosen), not the voter (with the power of choice).   

Recently, someone I know—let’s call her “Sally”—was lamenting having been fired from a kindergarten (abroad), for falling pregnant.  She was particularly stung because it happened on International Women’s Day. 

The outpouring of support for Sally struck me as odd.  It was her second pregnancy in as many years.  You cannot go on a tot-making spree and expect to remain gainfully employed. I thought it was interesting that among all the gushing sympathy, not one practical voice piped up to say: “How about shutting the baby factory down for a while, eh, Sally?” 

Speaking of practical voices, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank recently declared that in the last 50 years, only four women had reached Director level at the Bank.  Since 2009, Sanusi has appointed seven female directors and called on the state to give women top positions. The Central Bank has also ordered financial institutions to make 40% executive management and 30% of their board members, women. 

So why don’t women get to the top spots under their own steam? Perhaps: 

Because the Kingmakers are always male.

Women are too often the candidate (waiting to be chosen), not the voter (with the power of choice).  Look at Hillary Clinton. All that nonsense she put up with from Bill for all those years, only to end up having to wait for President Obama to pick her as his Secretary of State.   For all her talk of the “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuits”, Mama Clinton had to rely on the “Brotherhood of the Kenyan Black Guy” for her seat at the top table of US politics. 

Because ‘all-female’ is still interpreted as ‘inferior’.

Women are supposedly the more compassionate sex (a principle obviously dreamt up by someone who has never set foot inside an all-girls high school).  Yet, when it comes to power plays, “compassionate” is just a fancy way of saying “weak”. They even coin flimsy terms like “soft power” as though burying wayward opponents’ heads in our bosoms is the female go-to move for getting it done. The implication that when the ladies do it—whatever it is— it has a little less edge; is everywhere.  

Because the way we define “success” has become warped.

About a year ago, the internet exploded with outrage, when it was revealed that ‘Jersey Shore’ star Snooki, famous for flaunting shamelessness for a living, was paid more than Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison to speak at a top university in America. Then you get the veiny and desperate Madonna, who has run out of ways to scandalise us but keeps trying, just to stay talked about. And those Kardashians. Ugh.  

Closer to home,  we have the girls who are happy to churn out offspring for the likes of 2face Idibia and 9ice, presumably in exchange for a swish lifestyle and a carelessly flung ta-ra! to anything as tedious as a hard day’s work.  The list of today’s most high-profile Nigerian women reads increasingly like a list  with celebrity (or rather, notoriety) based on indiscriminate use of one’s “swimsuit area” to either gain fame or a secure an easy lifestyle. 

So, maybe it’s our aspirations that need re-assessing.  How many of us even see being elected onto the Board of the Central Bank as “making it”?  And how many of us would rather get there by having a paparazzo flat on his back taking a photo up our skirt?  Honest answers on a postcard, please. 

I like how Rashida Dati chased her ambitions. Back in 2010, France’s then Justice Minister was back at work just five days after giving birth. Little Collette (I made that up) may be fraught with all sorts of emotional trauma once she hits puberty, but Mommy made a choice to avoid the post-maternity career crisis.  

Tough decisions have to be made, for sure.  But, rather than the Central Bank lowering the bar for women by reserving senior management and board seats for us (it’s not really much of an achievement if it’s handed to you on a plate), how about we make the tough choices for ourselves?  And then commit completely. Whichever path we choose.  

Over to you.


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Comments (22)

  1. I honestly dont believe that Kathleen cares for our insults she always writes in a way that strikes a cord with us and despite how we feel she will continue to do so. secondly while I agree that some women these days have made it difficult for those that aspire for serious careers I feel Kathleen has failed to see the complexities of this scenario. The truth is we are women we must give life to continue the cycle. It is more so how we handle this time period. Some women want to be VP others housewives and even some want to sleep thier way to the top. Its an individual choice and all I hope is women support each other despite our choices in life.

  2. Hmm Miss Kathleen, i appreciate the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, so, i will respect that. But to pen such a thought as this "Little Collette (I made that up) may be fraught with all sorts of emotional trauma once she hits puberty, but Mommy made a choice to avoid the post-maternity career crisis. " that's just not cool. Cos teenager 'Collette' having been deprived of Mommy's supervision and emotional-security, blooms into the Designer-conscious-i-wanna-be-yo-baby-mama- lady.

    Like Oprah said one time, as a woman with career goals, the truth is, once you become a mother, you automatically sacrifice an extra shine in that career climb. *i don comot*

  3. Cant a woman have an opinion anymore . This is the writers view and we are allowed to agree or disagree, but to call her names or even say she doesnt av kids is taking it too far . To say u disagree with the issue is cool and understood , but name calling is childish and totally irresponsible.

  4. She who does NOT know,

    And does NOT know she does NOT know,

    Is a fool.

    Shun such counsel.

    This woman knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about motherhood.

    She thinks she is soooo smart while she's very shallow.

    That's the problem these days with those who type better than they think.

  5. Ur writing suffers from Anemia

  6. YNaija I blame u for this! Can dis gurl go bck to Cameroon already?

  7. Thank you young momma, you hit the nail right where it should be hit. waoh! that's exactly how i feel too. Thank you.

  8. Kathleen Ndongmo ȋ̊ dnt knw ur reason 4 writing dis but to M̶̲̥̅Ƹ it makes № sence. Women can never β equal wit a man nd dat's coz God said so, № matter ow much we want it it will never β so. So ȋ̊ tink women need to wake up and accept †ђξ truth abt ourselves. Nd Kathleen U̶̲̥̅̊ commendin sum1 4 neglect deir infants coz of work is terrible

  9. Kathleen Ndongmo ȋ̊ dnt knw if U̶̲̥̅̊ r married nd hv kids if U̶̲̥̅̊ do U̶̲̥̅̊ wnt write ƜЂA̶̲̥̅†̥ U̶̲̥̅̊ r writing nd besides a woman is †ђξ home maker. U̶̲̥̅̊ r sayin sum1 suld stop giving birth bcoz of deir work after some year?

    U̶̲̥̅̊ really need to sit and tink bcoz ur write up doz nt mk sence to M̶̲̥̅Ƹ 4 real. A man will always β the head № matter ow hard we try bcoz God has said it and made it so, so U̶̲̥̅̊ need to wake up nd accept †ђξ truth

  10. As I write this, I'm breastfeeding my 2mth old son. I work for a multinational company and have worked for 5yrs before I got married and had this child. I'm by no means a housewife candidate, I want my son to grow up and be proud of his mommys achievements in d workplace. But as I look at him daily, knowing I'm goin to leave him in a daycare centre or at d mercy of a nanny who I don't knw frm eve, I knw that I want to be there to monitor his growth and upbringing every step of the way. I knw my career will suffer a setback because of this, the corporate world is hostile to women who have kids and homes, u cannot get d best out of a woman whose mind is constantly on her kid, dts y I commend organizations with flexible hours and creches in d office. Right now if u offered me 30% of my pay and flexible hours I wud jump at it. When ur children are young infant- 3yrs old they need a lot of attention and u shud be there for them cuz they grow so fast and one day when they r all grown u'll be begging for them to even call u up once in a month. I like d high powered career lifestyle but believe me when u have a child, ur experience a major shift in perspective. I'm willing to live within my means and make some sacrifices. Kathleen, easy on topics u don't know too much about, I assume u r not married or have any kids. I pray u get married soon and God blesses u with beautiful and adorable twins or triplets, let's see ur mouth running then! One last thing, research into d lives of the few women who reached d peak like u said, they made a choice, married late cuz of career growth and used money to subject themselves to IVF to look for this babies they didn't want to have back then. Do babies ruin a womans career? Yes to an extent but they can also make you more productive and creative, I'm thinking of what else I can do to free myself from d shackles of the unforgiving corporate world, a woman should have a plan but something will definitely hve to give at some point in your life. There is a time and a place for everything and if u look at d big picture I wud rather choose to do what will give me greater joy and fulfilment. Used my feeding time to write this, see I can multitask too, not entirely useless my dear!

  11. Dear Ynaija, what is ur criteria for selecting these people? The fact that a person has over 3000 ff does not make them a good writer cos this article is appalling, downright foolish, baseless and misleading. It is obvious that the writer did not do a lot of research before writing the article and just came to spew subjective opinion here. I am highly disappointed!

  12. I can't believe this. Will spare my precious time responding to this but am definitely in line with these three previous comments by Madame Koi Koi, Lola and Rme

  13. This girl abi woman keeps taking a piss. Do your research properly please. Didn't Mrs Clinton you rudely mentioned enlist as in U.S democrate presidential candidate race? What more were you expecting her to do? Force herself into the White house? And please don't ever compare educated ladies with groupies and reality tv stars. If you don't cherish kids, just shut mouth for career ladies who do.

  14. First of all let me just say I love your write ups.

    What is the point of getting all ruffeled up at the obvious being pointed out girls? Us women need to learn to be 100% independent and take charge of every aspect of our lives and teach our daughters same from day one if we want to change things. Period. I could write volumes on this but I will spare you all trauma of that & just say I love Rachida Dati.

  15. It is possible to have children and a strong career. It is all about planning. I think that the best thing to do is to space out child bearing, this would give women (the ones who want to of course) the opportunity to pursue their goals. Having babies in succession would be unfair on employers too.

    It is a good thing to encourage people to have dreams and goals, however, we should also be careful to not sound condescending to people whose dreams appear 'small' to us. Women should not be pressured into anything, full time mothers should be given the same respect as career ladies as long as what they are doing is their choice.

    What the French minister did might not be the healthiest option for herself and the baby. Personally, I think 5 days is too short a time but good for her. In all we do, we should aim for balance. If sally was wrongfully fired, she should sue (depends on the country anyway lol)

  16. And there goes 2 minutes of my life I cant regain! sigh**

    You clearly do not have kids or have never had to employ and motivate people, women especially, to aim for and reach their highest potentials in life while still being women and mothers! I have had to pay salaries for 6mths or more for a new recruit while she went and gave birth.I could have fired her but then she is a woman like myself.If i cant be sympathetic ( forget the legal bullsh*t) who will?? The men? Why dont women make the tough decisions?? There goes a tough decision ( Sally) you just messed up yourself! As a woman you sure sound like one who will fire Sally for getting pregnant! And turn around and blame her for getting pregnant while working. Jeez!

    Secondly, Please do not insult us educated women by making comparisons to the likes of Tuface`s hos and the Kardashians..( u even watch them??? tells me not to bother reading ur next rhetoric. Yes I am pissed! )

  17. I'm sorry but this post is so heavily biased. You spent valuable time pointing out the several women who have 'made it' only through paparrazzi and other questionable means. While I don't plan to waste time pointing out to you how entertainment just as well as IT or economics is a viable venture, I have to wonder why you have s o obviously ignored the hundreds of women world over who have had to compete equally with men in different sectors and managed to come out tops (even while having kids inbetween.

    The likes of Dilma Rousseff, Sonia Gandhi and even the Hilary Clinton you so flippantly mentioned.

    "You cannot go on a tot-making spree and expect to remain gainfully employed. I thought it was interesting that among all the gushing sympathy, not one practical voice piped up to say: “How about shutting the baby factory down for a while, eh, Sally?”" Is there any other way to say bullshit? Cos that's what this entire quote resonates.

    It is beyond ridiculous that you think making babies is somewhat emasculating and bars a woman from advancing in her career. Kingmakers aren't always male and women are becoming even more ambitious over time.

    *rant over* Ekabo.

  18. On one side I sort of sympathize with Sally. On the other, taking the emotionalism out of it, as a business owner, if I had an employee who was AWOL for several months not 1, but 2 years in succession, I'd have to think long and hard whether she was worth it (legally, of course). I am, after all, trying to run a business – I need people who will actually stick around to do the work.

    Maybe women can't have it all. There have to be compromises made. That's life.

  19. Hmm.. I'm not quite sure if I agree with your message here but putting that aside I have just one simple question: why should ANYONE be fired for being pregnant?!?!?!?

    Call me naive but I don't get it. I do not know where "Sally" is from but where I am from women are protected from stuff like this. I mean, wether you agree or disagree with her lifestyle at the end of the day she was blessed with something wonderful. Go on maternity leave and come back afterwards. If you were her friend, yes you should express to her that she should be more careful about her choices and advice her to sue the kindergarten for wrongful termination of the working agreement.

    But then again, maybe I'm just naive …

  20. Second pregnancy? That sounds harsh. Not sure this dismissal was the woman's fault.

  21. I am insulted that u wud suggest a woman who is pregnant has chosen not to get ahead. Silly

  22. The problem started with the upbringing,everything thought out for a girl child life without her intrusion,but,YOU can break free. Take the bull by the horn and ride on its back! Thanks Kate,we need this.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail