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How the female archetype is best suited to solve for impending crises

Nov 12 2020 • 3 min read • Inclusion

We cannot overlook the seismic shifts taking place

There have been mixed reactions regarding Kamala Harris’ rise to Vice Presidency, with some circles arguing that after more than 200 years of democracy, this milestone is long overdue. Others however, rejoice in this moment, seeing it as paving the way for women to keep breaking structural barriers, as confirmed by Kamala herself that, while she may be the first, she definitely will not be the last.

Over the years, there has been an increase in women holding Head of State positions and achieving great feats. Starting with, Ellen Johnson SirLeaf, Liberia’s and Africa’s first female president, who successfully dealt with one of the worst health crisis the world had seen in recent times; Ebola, to Chancellor Merkel who approached the refugee crisis with empathy by opening borders to the displaced and lastly, Jacinda Ardern, who is praised for how she dealt with the first COVID outbreak in New Zealand together with other progressive stances she has taken to advance her nation.

Albeit snail pace, we cannot overlook the seismic shifts that are taking place. There is a rise in the female archetype in leadership, and we are seeing change in how global challenges are approached and how this nuanced style of leadership, is solving for humanity in more holistic ways.

The urgency for the female archetype

There is heightened awareness of the need to drive equal participation of women across the board and it is widely understood, that the contribution of the female archetype is more urgent now given the many challenges faced by societies. The World Economic Forum believe that increasingly, we will see frequent epidemics as a result of our interconnectedness, globalisation, urbanisation and climate change. As society becomes more connected, collaboration and cooperation will be needed to reduce the impact of future epidemics.

When referring to the male and female archetypes, it’s not necessarily a focus on gender alone, but rather appreciating the predominant leadership disposition that delivers favourable outcomes.

In his talk, Occupy Male Street some years ago, Salim Ismail described the male archetype as being aggressive, hierarchical, centralised and winner take all type of mentality and contrasted it with the female archetype which is characterised as collaborative, nurturing, integrative and networked.

Today’s paradox is that we live in a world of abundance and yet we seem limited in our approach to solving some of our greatest challenges. For example, enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet, but hunger is on the rise in some parts of the world, and some 821 million people are considered to be “chronically undernourished” as reported by the UN. In Africa, we have a shortage of electricity and yet, every day, the sun gives off far more energy than we need and can power everything on earth.

Salim goes on to suggest that the challenge with the male archetype is that when it meets abundance the response is greed and aggression, and associates hoarding with power. This prevents progress at the scale that is required to drive meaningful change in the world. The rise of the female archetype is urgent.

Surviving the next crises

The need to build a critical mass of women in organisations cannot be overstated, as the challenges we previously faced have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the disparities will widen if we fail to take a different course. We cannot address the same problems with the same old approaches, else we would all be playing to the definition of insanity.

Driving diversity and inclusion brings discomfort and threatens existing power structures. As the scarcity mentality prevails in certain corners, however, the female archetype promises to embrace abundance to serve all and not just women.

Creating space and being deliberate on how to drive inclusive growth is not a ‘nice to have’ but a must have if we are going to survive the next crises.

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