To promote women leadership, countries and organizations need to create a congenial environment so as to facilitate entry of women into mainstream positions. The factors and conditions which ensure smooth journey for a woman to pursue her chosen career and enable her to reach the top are called enablers.
There are a number of enablers that can move women on the right track to achieve their goals. They are, for instance, a supportive family, education, secure social environment, equal employment opportunity, women-friendly house policies of business organizations and public policies.
An enabling socio-cultural, political and business environment is a sine qua non for women occupying leadership positions in the society. What creates an enabling environment for women? Which factors are necessary to enable women to rise to become true leaders? In this chapter, let us discuss some important enablers for effective women leadership.
Family as the basic social institution has profound influence on individuals. As the seat of the very first integration of individuals into social life, families are the major source of their members’ basic personal and social identity, and capacity for love and togetherness.
A supportive family is a great enabler for women leadership. An individual’s physical, emotional and psychological development takes shape first in his/her family. An individual is what a family creates him/her.
- As a source of Inspiration − It is the family that inspires an individual to bring out the best in him. Unless the family in which a girl is born provides her the required support, both moral and monetary, she finds it utmost difficult to shape her career as per her will and determination. Many women leaders are nipped in the bud before they come to the forefront. Their family stands on their way to the top.
- As an Effective Enabler − A supportive family helps women members to bring out the best in them. It enables them to hone their talent in the right perspective. When families nurture a positive attitude towards women members and provide them with moral and economic assistance at par with male members, they become an effective enabler for prompting women to leadership positions.
- Family as an Influencing Factor − It is found that most of the successful women leaders in the world are products of their own family. In other words, their families have helped them rise to top positions. Family values and ideals greatly influence the character building of its members, especially a girl or a woman. By providing girls and women the required space, the family enables them to bring their inherent leadership qualities to the foreground.
- As an Empowering Social Institution − A supportive family not only inspires a female member but also empowers her by providing moral, physical, and monetary support. Being empowered, she is spurred to activities to succeed in becoming a leader. Thus, family is the first social institution that empowers women to become what they intend to be.
A supportive family, therefore, provides the basic platform to women to pursue their career goals and establishes themselves as leaders.
Education is a great liberator. It liberates women from the shackles of age-old superstitions, traditions, and beliefs that exist in a society. It is rightly said, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, however, if you educate a woman you educate a whole family”.
- Education helps women acquire knowledge, understand gender relations, develop a sense of self-worth, a belief in their ability, etc. It enables them to bring out the best in them and make them accepted as a mass leader.
- Education enables women to free themselves from the bondage of ignorance and orthodox beliefs, social evils, gender discrimination, and domestic as well as social violence.
- It creates in them fortitude and self-confidence to fight against every odd on their way to achieve success in life.
- It enlightens them about the larger world and world views. It also acquaints them with women leaders of different countries and their leadership styles. It exposes them to the world and helps them know the conditions of women in different countries and different societies.
Good education brings out the inherent leadership qualities in women and enables them to establish themselves as great leaders.
Secure Social Environment
An enabling social environment is a necessary precondition for growth of sustainable women leadership. For the all-round growth of women and for making them fit for leadership position, a congenial and secure social environment is an utmost necessity. She needs the unconditional support of family, and the society in which she lives in to realize her potentials to the full.
Communities where women are given due recognition, provided with opportunities and allowed to express themselves, have seen the rise of many women leaders in the passage of time.
- Enable women to become effective leaders − If a favorable secure social environment is provided and women are provided the position to lead, they will prove themselves as effective and successful as or more than that of their male counterparts.
- Encourage and build trust − When a woman feels safe and secure in a given society, she is encouraged to participate in leadership activities in the society. A secure social environment help women build trust in themselves.
- Enhance self-confidence − A secure socio-cultural environment enhances selfconfidence in women. It drives away fears and insecurity from them and makes realize their full potential.
- Provide Opportunities − A secure social environment provides multiple opportunities for women to grow and show their leadership qualities. A community, where women are to move, to express themselves and to take part in community building activities, is destined to realize progress and prosperity.
Factors for Building a Secure Social Environment
- Change in the attitude of a male-dominated society towards women.
- Necessary constitutional and legal measures to build a secure social environment.
- Equal consideration of girls and women at par with boys and men in family and society.
- Change in organizational and corporate policies to allow women to reach the top.
- Stringent laws and their effective implementation against women abusers.
- Design an education system suitable for women.
- Inculcate a spirit of co-habitation through peace and order in social members.
There is a need to build a progressive society. Changes need to take place in the attitudes of the majority of the society in which women’s progress is hindered. A secure social environment provides ample space to women to grow as leaders. Thus, the society where women realize their full potential and contribute to the task of social building is, indeed, a progressive and democratic society.