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For every test or examination taken at school in Nigeria, you are given a results sheet that ranks students in order of academic performance. Sounds daunting to many, but personally I enjoy that type of methodical evaluation and this system gave me (as a student) and my parents a measure of my academic performance.

Academia was so important to my family. I attended boarding school for my secondary education and my parents ensured I was given extra tutoring during mid-term breaks and holidays. Despite this extra effort, I struggled to meet my personal goals at school, finishing in the top 10 but never ranked top of the class. At my ‘academic peak’, my performance was second best, falling short of my closest friend and forming a slightly competitive bond.

You might think top ten, or second best is still pretty good by all standards but first place came with rewards such as a full scholarship. All my siblings successfully gained – and maintained – top of their classes but despite pushing myself I could never quite get there.

Without diminishing the tremendous efforts of my best friend’s consistent academic excellence, I believe I settled into the second-best position unconsciously. Secretly, each year, I competed for the first position, but my default coping mechanism was never to reveal these goals/ambitions openly for fear of not achieving them, appearing competitive, to relieve pressure, and limit expectations. “What happens if I get first place this term and cannot maintain it?” or “Is it not better to remain firmly in second place than to live through the embarrassing drop?”

I challenged myself each year and eventually found my feet and my academic passion to fix things. I honed this skill to complete my PhD at Loughborough University, and to become a practicing Electrical Engineer at Cundall.

Here is a few valuable lessons I learned along the way.

Let Go of the Inferiority Complex

I began to let go of my inferiority complex when I started viewing life as a journey, not a race. I analysed – and still do analyse – my successes (and the occasional failures) based on what I have accomplished, and my past experiences; consciously putting increased emphasis on enjoying the process of achieving my realistic goal. I do, however, occasionally still suffer from the “imposter syndrome”.

(SOS: If anyone has succeeded in getting rid of theirs completely, please kindly tell me how you achieved this, so that I can apply it to my life!)

Be Competitive

As a secondary school pupil, I was confused by what being competitive meant. Being competitive is generally viewed negatively by society – especially for women. But it’s completely natural to have competitive feelings. Like most feelings, competitiveness can have both positive and negative manifestations. In the extreme form, it can prove unhealthy and counter-productive. However, it can also serve as motivation. I have learnt and accepted that it is okay to want to win, so long as I don’t discredit others in the process.

Maintain Confidence

I maintain my confidence by reflecting on my past achievements, developing my knowledge and skills, and by learning new methods. Most of the time, it is easy to get so caught up in always achieving, and the next goal. If you look back at your journey occasionally, you realise that there is nothing the future can bring that you cannot handle without some preparation. My personal and professional journey so far is living proof of this. So, sometimes – just take a break and celebrate yourself!

Share Knowledge

I am particularly passionate about knowledge sharing. I often recall Michelle Obama’s quote in 2012; “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give others the same chances that helped you succeed”. This inspires me as it shows that opportunities should be shared by all, and you should bring people on your journey where possible.

Be True to Yourself

I completed an Accelerated Advanced Level programme, which is AS and A2 in one year. I failed to make the minimum grades to study on the MEng programme at Loughborough University, and I was rejected by my first-choice university back in 2008. I recall feeling very disappointed, like it was the end of the road for me and my ambitions. Reflecting back on this experience, however, I believe that I had set an unrealistic goal for myself.

By being true to myself – and my capabilities – I now set more realistic goals. I may fail, and will make mistakes but these are proof that I am trying. During my PhD, I learnt that failure is a necessary part of the learning process. Just because an experiment fails, does not mean that you abandon the project. You can gain as much – or even more knowledge and experience – from a failure, as well as a success.

And to the young women thinking of pursuing careers in engineering, if you have the passion, go for it!

I strongly believe in the Venn diagram analogy that engineering is the intersection between scientific knowledge and societal need, with both creative and analytical capability for real world problem solving. There’s no gender discrimination in that definition so don’t exclude yourself from contributing, or deprive us of your skills, talent, knowledge and ideas to solve problems.

Never downgrade your dream to match your reality, but work hard, remain focused and most importantly, enjoy the process of working towards achieving your goals. If you have a dream, ambition or goal that feels overwhelming, break it down into tiny bite-size milestones. As you achieve your milestones, you are getting closer to your overall goal.

Dr Ozak Esu is a winner of the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards for the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

By Miracle Nwankwo

Every philanthropist has a unique and inspiring tale about their journey in philanthropy, and often times their acts and willingness to give to the society is inspired by the struggles of their past. However, it is one thing to be shown kindness and it is another thing to be willing to return the favor.

This episode of Impact Inspire brings the spectacular story of a rare gem, someone whose heart yearns daily with a desire to reciprocate an act of kindness that was shown her in a better form.

She is an African woman, born in the midst of excruciating poverty in a little village in Wedza District of rural Zimbabwe.

Her name is Fiona Mavhinga, the founding partner of CAMA a foundation whose goal is to help girls and young women to access education, facilitating their transition into higher education and employment, and creating opportunities to develop their leadership and activism.

Fiona had her growing up days very tough; as the first child of the family she was very keen on education and everyone around her saw her passion.

Her very supportive family sent her to live with her grandmother when she was old enough to go to school, so that the distance to school could become shorter since her grandmother lived closer to the school than they did. 

Reducing the distance to school was not the only problem that Fiona and her family had to deal with; they were also faced with financial problems. Despite all their efforts, there were days when the family went hungry because of Fiona’s fees, yet on many occasions, she was sent home from school for not paying her fees. Nevertheless, with the hope of a brighter future, the family struggled to meet Fiona’s school-going costs. While staying with her grandmother, they woke up at 4am every morning, and worked every weekend, selling vegetables at the market, trying to earn enough money to make ends meet.

Fiona’s mother, on the other hand was also committed to supporting her daughter’s education. She was a trader who traded dried fish for maize, and then sells the maize to provide for Fiona’s school fees. 

The distance between Fiona’s grandmother’s house to the school was 5km, apart from the days that her cousins and uncle would carry Fiona part of the way to school, she walked every day to school to receive a full day of lessons, after which she returns home studying late into the night next to a paraffin lamp, having spent her evenings working on the vegetable plot that their livelihood was dependent on. 

Fiona was not the only girl in her community that really wanted go to school, but due to the poverty that consumed most rural areas in Zimbabwe many of her friends in the rural village lost their dreams to poverty, and their lives have become so drastically different from that of Fiona who was lucky enough to pull through with the support and determination of her family.

Having concluded her secondary school amidst the intense heat of lack and want, she was then faced with the challenge to further her education. She had written her final exams and obtained the best results both in her school, and her entire province. For the cause of her excellence, she was offered an admission into the Zimbabwe university.  

The possibility of going to the university was not in view and Fiona was too stubborn to give up. She thought of many possible solutions and a way out but none of the options involved letting go of her dreams. In the end, like the old saying “when there is a will, there is a way”, a perfect help came to her at the very time she needed it.

The story of her life got better when Camfed stepped in to support her, it was a dream come through for Fiona who cried tears of joy and relief.

Camfed is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting marginalized girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change.

With the help of Camfed, Fiona went to the University to study Law and graduated. After her graduation she worked as a lawyer for three years and later went on to work with the Bank of Zimbabwe.

However, that was not her destination as she had a dream and a purpose to drive into fulfilment. She wanted to return this same act of goodwill and together with the support of Camfed and other beneficiaries of the NGO (the first 400 young women whose education Camfed had supported), Fiona formed the Camfed Association, CAMA.

CAMA is a powerful Pan-African network with a unique movement of rural philanthropists whose major focus is to help the adolescent girl with access to education.

In 1998 when they started out, the 400 former Camfed-supported students came together to multiply the impact of donor funds by offering training, technology, business loans, and mentoring support to young women at the critical time when they leave secondary school.

Currently, the Group has a target to grow to more than 130,000 by 2019. Also in 2014, they set a target in partnership with their parent organisation Camfed, to support one million adolescent girls to go to secondary school within just five years. After two years, at the end of 2016, they had passed the halfway mark.

In 2017, it reached the 100,000 mark. Many women and girls are now beneficiaries of the CAMA Network and Fiona is still optimistic. She looks forward to a brighter future with CAMA meeting the educational needs of billions of women and girls in Africa. And she also hopes that with these impacts, these beneficiaries can now take up top positions in the societies and help change the world.

The group has also established its presence in other African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi with its executive representative resident in those countries.

Fiona has been celebrated on different platforms and has also received awards for her efforts including Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Qatar is the only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country still implementing male guardianship laws for female travel after Saudi Arabia lifted its restrictions on Friday. Saudi Arabia announced it would now allow both male and female citizens over the age of 21 to travel without a parent or guardian’s permission. While the rest of the GCC countries are working to protect and empower women’s rights, Qatar seems to lag behind.

According to the Qatari Interior Ministry’s website, guardianship laws require females under the age of 25 to travel abroad with a male parent’s consent. These measures restrict women who may need to travel abroad out of necessity, for education, visiting a relative or for medical needs.

According to the Saudi news agency Al Arabiya, Qatari men can – and do – apply to the courts in order to prevent their wives from traveling.

“Married women are entitled to travel without permission irrespective of their age,” it states on the Qatari Interior Ministry’s website. “In case the husband doesn’t want her to travel, he has to approach the competent court to prevent her journey.”

The same rules, however, do not apply to the men. According to the ministry’s website, men are allowed to travel freely once they reach the legal age of 18: “No permission is required for those who are 18 years old or more as they have reached the legal age of puberty.”

Furthermore, the Qatar official e-government portal Hukoomi’s instructions for citizens’ passport renewal specify that only Qatari males over the age of 18 can apply for a passport on their own. It also states that those same people may apply for renewal on account of unmarried daughters, sisters and nieces.

Saudi Arabia’s new decree, as of Friday, grants women who are of age the right to apply for and renew their passports themselves. Their recent changes also allow women to register independently for marriage, divorce or a child’s birth, and to receive family documents. The new decree also establishes that either the mother or father can act as a child’s legal guardian.

According to NPR, it was not too long ago that Saudi Arabia attempted to silence women’s rights activists and punish those who had political dissent, thus increasing the amount of female asylum seekers such as Rahaf Mohammad Alqunum and Samah Damanhoori, who actually succeeded in finding asylum abroad. In 2017, both Saudi men and women made a total of 817 asylum claims.

Neither Bahrain nor the United Arab Emirates implement guardian systems for female travelers, and Kuwaiti women gained the right to travel without a guardian’s approval back in 2009.

According to Amnesty International, Qatar acceded to international human rights treaties concerning migrants and women, but included reservations that limit their effect. Thus, their legal developments for women’s rights in general are slow.

The Qatari government, according to Amnesty, recently rejected Article 3 of their International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) on “the equal right of men and women in the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights.”

Source: Jpost

EY has appointed Nancy Muhoya Nganga as managing partner of its Kenyan practice and leader of the East Africa cluster, the first time a woman has held the roles

She takes over from Gitahi Gachahi who has managed the firm since 2010 and is due to retire later this year.

Muhoya, a Kenyan certified public accountant, has been with the firm for 16 years and has served in a number of senior roles. Most recently, she led assurance services in EY East Africa and was responsible for an unprecedented expansion in its business.

Welcoming her appointment, Gachahi described the growth on her watch as “phenomenal”. “With her experience, business acumen, exposure and global mind set, our business is poised for a take-off to the next level,” he added.

Muhoya’s rapid rise to the top has not gone unobserved. In 2016, she was picked as one of Business Daily’s Top 40 Under 40 Women, an annual award that recognises exceptional young businesswomen both as game changers and inspirational role models for future generations.

“It’s truly an honour to be appointed EY East Africa cluster leader,” she told economia. “I look forward to engaging with our highly talented teams across East Africa and continuing to inspire trust and confidence in how we serve our clients in this digital age.”

There is just one thing always willing to destroy the fun-filled summer experience you have always fantasized about and this is nothing else other than Summer health hazards.  It is true that with warmer weather comes an increased risk of sun exposure, heat stroke, and water injuries, among other, nevertheless, here’s how you can prevent them. 

According to the CDC, extreme heat sends an average of 65,000 Americans to emergency rooms annually. Stocksy Summer’s here, and with it comes longer days, summer Fridays, and weekend getaways. It’s time to get outside, hit the beach, and go on that camping trip you’ve been putting off because of uncooperative weather.

Although, just because flu season, snow, and ice-covered streets are behind us, doesn’t mean you can let your guard down when it comes to health. “It’s still important for people to be conscientious and aware,” even when summer fun is the season’s top priority.

Here, experts share the most common summer health hazards, symptoms to look for, and how to prevent them so you can stay safe and healthy all summer long.

  1. Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion — Limit Strenuous Outdoor Activity

When temperatures reach sweltering, it’s not just uncomfortable — it’s also dangerous and potentially deadly. Extreme heat sends an average of 65,000 Americans to emergency rooms annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the most dangerous of the heat-related illnesses, can occur when the body is unable to properly cool down after prolonged exposure to excessive heat (such as working or exercising outdoors). Heat stroke is a more severe case of heat exhaustion, Dr. Kapur explains. The good news? It’s preventable.

Prevention:

Kim Knowlton, PhD, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City, advises people to slow down and adjust work and activity schedules to keep cool during midday, when the sun tends to be the strongest. Dr. Knowlton recommends checking on friends and neighbors to make sure they’re okay. This is especially important for the young and the elderly, who are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.  “If you start feeling sick, take the heat seriously.”

Some Symptoms include:

  • A body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • A fast pulse
  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion
  • Lost of consciousness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle Cramps
  1. Mild and Severe Dehydration — Don’t Skimp on Water Intake

We hear it all the time: Drink more water, but when out soaking up the sun, imbibing summery   cocktails, or playing sports, it’s even more important to make drinking water a priority. Skip it for too long and you could suffer from dehydration, which can range from mild to severe, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Prevention:

Simply put, drink lots of water throughout the day, especially when spending time outdoors in the sun. Kapur tells patients who plan to be lounging or sweating outside to aim for 16 ounces of water every hour, and to consider dialing back strenuous activity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, when the sun is strongest.

  1.   Sunburn and Sun Damage — Make Applying Sunscreen a Daily Habit

Long, sunny days are arguably one of the best parts of summer, but can be a danger to our largest   organ which is our skin. Venture out too long without sunscreen and you could not only get a severe sunburn and age the appearance of your skin with wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but could also increase your risk for skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.

Prevention:

Again, limit your time in the sun and choose a shady spot whenever possible, says Kapur. Most importantly, make sunscreen a daily habit, whether or not the sun is even shining. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and be vigorous about reapplying. Spots to apply sunscreen that are commonly overlooked? The front and back of the neck, chest, the back of the knees, ears, scalp, and top of the feet, adds Natasha Mesinkovska, MD, director of clinical research for the department of dermatology in the School of Medicine at the University of California in Irvine. Once you’ve properly applied sunscreen, don’t forget to don sunglasses for more than style; UVA and UVB rays can also damage eyes.

  1. Water-Related Injuries — Practice Safe and Supervised Swimming

Nothing says summer like a beach or pool day. But swimming has plenty of dangers, from infections to diving injuries and even drowning, which is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 1 to 4, according to the CDC. This danger is only increased by the ubiquity of cellphones. With more adults scrolling on devices, they can be more distracted from keeping a close eye on kids while they’re in the water. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute suggests having one adult be the ‘designated water watcher,’ similar to a designated driver.

 Prevention:

Consider these tips from the American Red Cross for safe swimming setups, especially at pools:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Don’t leave young children unattended or without adult supervision.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • Have children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets but do not solely rely on them.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Every second is important in preventing death or disability.
  • Additionally, if you often find yourself predisposed to swimmer’s ear, an infection of the outer canal of the ear, per the CDC, try wearing earplugs when taking a dip, suggests Kapur.

5       Insect Bites and the Spread of Diseases — Be Mindful of Yourself and Your Surroundings

When traipsing through hiking trails and exploring the outdoors, don’t forget to be mindful of insect   bites, which “are not only annoying, but can transmit serious illnesses,” says Knowlton. Be especially wary of ticks and mosquitoes — mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus and Dengue fever, and for people who live in the Northeast, ticks can carry up to 16 different infectious illnesses, per the CDC, including Lyme disease.

Prevention:

  • Use insect repellent even on short hikes, says Kapur. If you’re camping, consider pretreating your tent or hammock with repellent as well. If you can, even in the heat, wear long sleeves and pants and tuck your socks into pants, Knowlton adds. Also be sure to check yourself, plus friends, family, and pets, for ticks after outdoor activities.
  • The CDC also suggests staying in the center of trails when going on a hike and avoiding areas with tall grass, as well as treating clothes with products that contain 0.5 percent permethrin, an anti-parasite medication that also acts as an insect repellent. If you’re worried you’ve been in a tick-infested area, they also advise bathing or showering within two hours after an outing and washing clothes in hot water — and drying them on high heat, too.

As you make superb plans for this summer, also make well-targeted safety plans to help ensure that your summer enjoyments are not short-lived by the presence of summer hazards. 

Sophia F. Gottfried

Kenya’s 2017 General Election, despite being the second after the promulgation of the new Constitution, ushered in a number of firsts in the political arena. It was the first time that a presidential election results had been annulled. It was also during this election that Kenya got its first set of female governors.

Apart from Charity Ngilu who had won the Kitui gubernatorial race, the other two female governors, Anne Waiguru and late Dr Joyce Laboso, were not considered political heavyweights. They were only mastering the ropes of politics at the very top with the win being Waiguru’s first attempt at politics and Laboso starting on a new path having only come into politics as her sister’s successor.

Dr Laboso, who recently passed on has always been at the forefront of Kenya’s power ground championing for empowerment and encouraging women to set out and achieve their goals. As a pioneer female governor, she highlighted a number of challenges that comes with the role including minding ‘the length of your skirt.’

Delivering on expectations

With the first crop of governors in Kenya all being male, the entrance of the three female governors meant that they were the new kids on the block and all attention was drifted to them. They automatically became the litmus test for what women could do and how well leaders perform. On top of that, as women leaders, they are tasked with managing public expectations on a daily basis.

“People will relate more with women leaders and they are able to share a lot of things that they would ordinarily not even think of sharing with a man. The feeling of motherliness and the feeling that she will understand drives the public to us. At the end of the day, this can be daunting as everybody is having expectations of the things you should be able to do for them, and that you should be able to understand because you are a woman, a mother.”  Dr Laboso had explained during an interview.

Tackling challenges head on

As a female leader, the duty of setting the right image rests on your shoulder and this includes living a life that sets the right precedent for the younger generation. For the female governors, it boils down to the manner in which they carry themselves around including how they dress. Being a county boss upcountry, Laboso said, she was moved to be conscious of her dressing at every one time. “In an upcountry setting, I have had to really be careful about the length of skirts and so on. You do not want people to focus on your dress rather than the content you are sharing.”

Talking about her election win, Laboso did not shy from admitting that a number of people took her to be a joker and thought she was not serious about her decision to run against one of the political bigwigs in the region who was also the incumbent Bomet Governor, Hon Isaac Ruto. She had to stand her ground and do what she believed in despite all the belittling.

Being a politician comes with a number of responsibilities and one of them is being strong enough to counter those who want to bring you down. As the late governor would note, one amasses more distractors as they climb up the political arena. In her case, noted that she got herself more distractors as a governor compared to those during her tenure as the national assembly Deputy Speaker and as Member of Parliament for Sotik. “It is not about being a woman. I am selling myself as a leader. What is it that a leader does?” She challenged.

Word for women leaders

According to Laboso, women’s greatest undoing is their aversion to public scrutiny. She urges that women need to develop a thick skin and get over the fear of being harassed, called names in public and ridiculed. She uses herself as an example and encourages women that “If I can be a governor today, then a lot of women can be.” She adds that once you have set your target on something, set out to achieve it and do not back off out of fear.

Source: Standard Media

What comes to mind when we think about office romance? According to a 2018 survey by Harvard Business Review, the issues involved are likely to be familiar ones for many of us. 40% of respondents said that they had dated a coworker; 30% said they had enjoyed a one-night stand with someone from the office, and almost half of all office romances lead to marriage. Meanwhile The 2018 Vault Office Romance Survey found that only 4% of people found the idea of being involved with a colleague entirely unacceptable, but many voiced a note of caution: almost half of respondents were concerned about the ‘power issue’ of a relationship between employees at different levels.  A third believed that it would be problematic for colleagues working together on the same projects to be in a relationship.

Given the many potential professional and personal implications, are office romances delightful or devilish? Is a hurried romp in the water closet less impactful to productivity than flowers in the boardroom? And is there a recipe for the perfect romantic relationship between colleagues? 

There are surprisingly few formal studies on office romance. A peer-reviewed paper published in Management Research (Pierce and Aguinis, 2003), enticingly titled “Romantic Relationships in Organizations: A Test of a Model of Formation and Impact Factors”, reported that office romances are potentially good for business: participation in a romantic relationship with a colleague was significantly associated with job satisfaction and commitment to the organization. More recently, in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, Doll and colleagues reported that the likelihood of being open to office romance is predicted by an interaction between the organization’s relationship policy, and the level of conscientiousness of the individual concerned. In other words, for some people office romances are about screwing the rules, while for others they are about the rules of…well, you get the idea.

On a more serious note, some office romances, with or without the blessing of the establishment, have the potential to wreak havoc on lives and careers. Some parties are more vulnerable than others – in a 2016 paper in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Chan-Serafin and colleagues reported that ‘hierarchical workplace romances’ (i.e. sleeping with the boss) can be highly detrimental to junior employees. Contrary to the common trope of people using romance as a way to climb the career ladder, these studies showed that junior participants in power-imbalanced office relationships were less likely to be selected for training opportunities and promotions. Interestingly – and perhaps also at odds with expectation – they also found that negative career ramifications were more severe for men in relationships with female superiors, than women involved with male superiors.

Becoming involved with the boss is not only a career risk – it can affect your working relationships with other colleagues. A series of studies by Sean Horan and Rebecca Chory, reported in Psychology Today, explored how people would feel about their coworker dating a superior. Employees indicated that they would trust them less, felt they had less credibility, and would even be more inclined to lie to them. These feelings were stronger if the coworker was female. The same results were found for hetero and gay relationships.

If the implications are so potentially treacherous, why do so many people still become involved in office romances? A large part of the answer lies in practicalities: with people spending more and more of their time in the workplace, where else would they meet potential partners? Workplace relationships also have the immediate advantages of common experiences, shared goals, and mutual friends – in a sense, they come ready made, with none of the usual groundwork involved in dating. Plus, as Pierce and Aguinis discovered, office romances are associated with satisfaction and commitment of more than one kind.

Clearly there are pros and cons associated with being romantically involved with a coworker – the negatives being potentially much more severe if there is a power disparity. For peers dating peers, the picture looks rosier: colleagues do not show the same levels of mistrust, there are less negative career implications, and, if the relationship is solid, there are advantages in enhanced teamwork and productivity. Nonetheless, anyone engaging in even the happiest of office romances must be prepared for gossip, distraction, and the potential drama should the loving couple break up.

However are there recipes to keep a healthy and perfect office romance? Find out next week as we draw insight from Good&Co’s Seven Rules for Surviving Office Romance. To be continued…..

Source: GOOD&CO