BPL Talks: #Leanin! Celebrating Women Leaders on #WorldBookDay 2015 for International Women’s Day 2015 #IWD2015

WBD2015_yellow_rightup I was recently looking at my ‘Books’ category on my blog and was ashamed to see that it contains just 2 posts!!

How embarrassing! This really shouldn’t be the case as I LOVE to read! I have been very busy of late – but I have manage to read a few sensational books over the past few months – books that have had a major impact on my current outlook on life as a woman aspiring to attain many goals! Thus, I have decided to take action to rectify this today – which happens to be World Book Day 2015! As it is also International Woman’s Day this Sunday, I thought it would be fitting to share some of the books I have read that have written by women who are the leaders in their fields and who have gone on to influence many other women across the globe.

I am striving towards being an impactive leader in business, the empowerment of women and social change and I also desire to be a wife and mother…yet despite it being the 21st century, where by technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams – we essentially carry computers in our pockets and can communicate across landscapes and continents in milliseconds – too many women still have to ask themselves the question – can I have it all? Society has transformed beyond recognition over the past 50 years, yet it still puts certain expectations on women, especially in the workplace, that are not levied on her male counterpart.

So, can women REALLY have it all?

The book that really lit the fire in my belly to demand the very best from life in every area was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.

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Sheryl’s CV is certainly stellar – In June 2012, she was also elected to the board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board. Before Facebook, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, and was involved in launching Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org. Before Google, Sandberg served as chief of staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury.
In 2012 she was named in the Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine. As of January 2014, Sandberg is reported to be worth over US$1 billion, due to her stock holdings in Facebook and other companies.

…oh…and she is a wife and a mother of two children under 10!

Sheryl’s calls women to #LeanIn to their careers and family – but acknowledge that you cant do it all AT the same time – but not to take one’s foot off the pedal!

The book looks at the barriers preventing women from taking leadership roles in the workplace, barriers such as discrimination and sexism (and for women of colour, the incidences of intersectionality, on which I touched upon in this post, can further exacerbate the negative experience that women face). Sandberg argues that in order for change to happen women need to break down these societal and personal barriers by striving for these leadership roles in the first place by ‘taking a seat at the table‘ and not to sit on the sidelines.

One of my favourite chapters is that of ‘Making Your Partner A Real Partner’. This chapter buttressed my belief that a woman’s success should not be a solo effort. If she is in a relationship, the contribution that her partner makes to dreams is invaluable. The bible states that two are better than one – because they have a good return for their labour . Her statement “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes” rang true for me – I don’t think it has to be literal 50/50 split, but an agreement on how best to share and utilise talents, skill sets to achieve joint dreams and goals is vital. I highly recommend this book, for both women and men who want to see women flourish in all the areas of her life, which will positively impact her home, her work and society as a whole.

You can get a feel for the content of the book by watching Sandberg’s TED talk that spearheaded her campaign and her mission.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read Adichie’s latest literary offering late last year and I enjoyed it very much!

The novel tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to the United States for a university education and her subsequent life in the States and her later decision to return to her homeland. What I loved about the book is how it explored the construct of ‘blackness’ in America, Nigeria and Britain – a subject that is very close to my heart.

The main protagonist is a graduate and a blogger, so there were many parallels in our lives – at the times her experiences felt so familiar it was scary!

The book was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review and was also shortlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction here in the UK.

Adichie – another spokesperson for equlity and rights for women, expounded on the subject of ‘race, blackness and feminity’ in this spectacular discussion hosted by our very own Zadie Smith.

Might Be Our Powers – Leymah Gbowee

The formidable Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women’s peace movement that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, ushered in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won, which resulted in Liberia being the first African nation to have a female president.

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She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.

I read her book because her story and struggle for equality was mentioned in Sandberg’s book and I was not disappointed. Her dedication to her cause and ability to mobilise and lead despite personal setbacks is nothing short of spectacular.

Watch her TED talk on why equality in the education of girls is of the utmost importance. Some of the stories she shares are quite harrowing, highlight the need for change to come NOW!

If you have read or go in to read any of these books, do let me know in the comments below, and please also suggest your favourite books by women who inspire you too!

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