While women are renowned for being great at multitasking, the question of whether they can have it all still elicits mixed reactions.
To this end, two Kenyan career women share their thoughts on this age-old debate and reveal how they juggle between a career, business, family, motherhood and more.
Lily Kirui Ngok, Kericho Deputy Governor
Nowadays, women enjoy nearly an equal status in society with men because they have successfully navigated through traditional and modern barriers and emerged winners in their own right. In this dynamic age and time, it is possible for a woman to venture into any dream career, politics included, and still be a good homemaker.
But just like everything else in life, there are good and bad days.
As a politician, mother, wife, church leader and philantrophist, juggling all the responsibilities that come with it is no mean feat. But I dare say that a woman can have it all, although it takes meticulous planning, a lot of sacrifices and learning to delegate certain roles. Having a supportive environment is also key.
Women are gifted with cognitive multi-tasking abilities which when well-harnessed create a seamless balance between work and family. Is it practical? Yes.
As my career changed from academia to the world of public service and politics, I increasingly found myself having to cede more personal space and time. As a deputy governor, I receive many visitors, mostly residents of Kericho with various problems or petitions. As a dedicated Christian and leader, I receive delegations from churches and clergy inviting me to fellowship or support. In politics, one has to convince voters, gain electoral support and remain in power. This requires an intensive engagement with voters and opinion leaders.
My family has, therefore, had to gradually come to terms with my prolonged absence as a result. We have had to make simple adjustments at home like having more hands on the deck in handling the increasing household chores.
With more life roles, learning to delegate is a vital art. For me, I hold dear my responsibilities as a mother and a wife, but I have had to accept the fact that I may not be able to cook and serve my household every single day.
I thank God for my understanding and supportive husband. He understands the dynamics of my public service role and guides and supports all my political activities too.
With the busier schedule, I always find it necessary to unwind. Spiritual meditation through prayers, a good laugh with kids, short breaks from work and spending quality time with family. We also go to church together every Saturday and take turns at giving sermons and singing together.
Dr Esther Dindi, Consultant Physician, CEO of Doctor Fitness, a wellness centre
A few days ago, I read an article that brought to the fore a question that’s plagued professional women ever since the proverbial glass ceilings were shattered and women started occupying the corner offices.
Can a woman have it all? A successful career and family life? Is it possible to juggle the rigors of motherhood and the cut throat rungs of the career ladder?
As a consultant physician who runs a marriage mentorship programme, I have been asked these questions many times. I understand only too well how challenging it can be to be a mother at one moment, a busy doctor at another and a wife at the end of the day. Every time I hear this question I keep feeling that we are backing up the wrong tree.
I think the question should not be whether a woman can have it all, but rather can a woman live a full, enriching life with her intrinsic potential fully maximised.
In other words, can a woman live a happy life, and my answer is of course yes!
This paradigm shift would take away the focus from an obsession with certain career milestones or the perfect family, and instead tune in on what would be fulfilling for a particular woman at the different seasons of her life.
It would give freedom to those who want to take time to raise their children without feeling like they are “losing out”. Those that have the inner knowing that it’s time to pursue career success as a means to an end are blessed with the intuition to decipher the seasons of a woman’s life. If the CEO’s office is the ultimate prize then the bar has been set too low in terms of truly living a phenomenal life.
So choose to live life full, authentically you.
It may mean taking a little longer to achieve some goals, but you will achieve them whole, rather than achieve the goal but miss the call.
It’s exciting to see women leaders at the very top of society and I celebrate that, and it is equally inspiring to see professional women make decisions based on what is best for the things that matter most to them, especially family.
Can a woman have it all? Yes she can, in the sense that every professional woman can marry her success with significance, and the product of this marriage is the rapturous embrace of a fulfilling, happy and impactful life.
It’s not about trying to have work-life balance, it is the ability to look at life as a whole, patient in the cradle of time, understanding the seasons and embracing the process.
This is to me a woman having it all.