Arab Womenpreneurs: Calling for a Mangel Network

by Randa Haidar, January 21, 2013

Help me dear father, brother, and husband

Every time I come across a women empowerment article, I scroll down to check one thing. Too often, I’m disappointed, it’s another woman. You’ve scrolled down too? Yes, I’m a woman, it’s not a typo; I am disappointed it’s not a man. Why should it be a man you ask? It’s not their fight is it? WRONG. In fact, I want to relieve the Arab man from the awkward position he is in. He is caught in a personal dilemma; he adores his little girl, and cringes at the prospect of her being under another man’s mercy. He really wants to give her as much power to make sure she’s always safe if life deals her a bad deck of husbands. Hence the dilemma; how much power exactly? What is the exact threshold of independence above which his daughter is no longer marketable in the wife market? He thinks: “I want her to be successful, but I also want her to be desirable as a wife.”

In marketing, when you have a product with no market you use a market creation strategy. Please forgive me fellow females for using such analogies, using words like ‘marketable’ and ‘product’, I’m just trying to emphasize a point; we shouldn’t have to choose between being successful and being good mothers. So let’s just create a market where successful women are desirable, and men will stop sending their mothers to the girl in the attic, instead they will fall in love with the girl at the podium at the speaker series who looks him straight in the eye.

How do we create this market? Let’s see, we need the men on board of course, especially from a change management perspective, we need them as endorsers. Just remember that your wife is another man’s little girl. We need the men to speak up for us, pave the way so we don’t have to scream as loudly. Sounds like hypocrisy doesn’t it? We need men to do everything for us, even to voice our concerns! Let’s look at it this way; a rising star in the music industry, always sings at the opening concert of her promoter. If you think about it, the talent has always been there, it’s just the credibility factor of the bigger star that helps her shine regardless of whether her talent is superior.

Yes, let’s face it; the bigger star is perceived as the man. As for everything else, we trump the other gender; we have higher degrees, a stronger entrepreneurial sense, and a higher percentage of educated members, all of which is backed up with endless studies from the MENA region. We are taught to believe that we have little to no control over our lives; therefore we lack the confidence, the voice, and are sometimes unaware of the fact that we are equally competent, if not more. The advantages to society are plenty; there’s a lot of promise if the gates of womenpreneurship were to be unleashed; for one, I can envision some very interesting social entrepreneurship models coming our way in addition to higher standards of commitment and responsibility across all industries.

Dear father, brother and husband, we need more of you to be brave enough to come out of the traditions closet, and show other men that there’s nothing to fear and much to gain. Even if we make our own money, and get well-earned praise from other life spheres, we still need your support and stronger shoulders to lean on. CAVEAT: there’s a price to pay though; we need to share other aspects of our ex-predominant roles as well. The kids are half me and half you, so let’s raise them together down to the last diaper change. You’ll be surprised that there is no inherent DNA string that says men can’t change diapers, and that it is actually a bonding exercise for a long and healthy relationship with your daughter, where she doesn’t have to grow up and blame you for her voice that you chose not to hear. You don’t have to worry about your daughter anymore; her being successful has thus become the equivalent to her being desirable.

One more bonus; you’ll be impressed by the conversations you can have with your wife or mother, if you were to listen more carefully.