The room was dead silent as Akua gently climbed the steps to the stage. She refused to turn her head left to look at the large crowd for fear of running off stage.
Today was her day. And she wasn’t going to allow her innate stage fright to win over the countless number of rehearsal hours, a triple re-work of her whole speech, and an exhausted PA.
If anyone had told her 10 years ago, that she would become an essential part of the fight for Women in Africa, she would have cried a river. Akua had grown up believing life had not been fair to her: right from her size, severe stuttering, to her clumsiness and lack of self-love. 10 years ago, Akua had been a 31-year-old whose parents and friends had given up on trying to convince her to believe in herself.
Exactly 6 months after a lonely 31st birthday, Akua met Zulaiha. On a sunny afternoon, while running an errand in the company’s Hyundai i10, she had scratched the left side of Zulaiha’s Maserati. It hadn’t been intentional but what caught Akua’s attention was how Zulaiha had handled the whole situation.
She hadn’t screamed her head off or tried grabbing at Akua’s hair. All she had done was to roll down her glass and signal Akua to follow her as she parked on the side of the road. That encounter had spiraled to a life transforming journey for Akua. Zulaiha had helped Akua learn to love herself, quit her job to become an entrepreneur, and work her way up to becoming a motivational speaker. Zulaiha had brought tangible progress into Akua’s life before sadly passing away three months ago from breast cancer at age 52.
The long journey to the glass podium ended. She exhaled gently and grabbed the microphone which had been placed on the top left side of the podium. All this while she had never tried looking in the direction of the crowd. She tapped the power button on her microphone and finally lifted her head with a broad smile.
‘It’s truly a pleasure to be in front of all of you this morning. It’s an indication of my own progress and our collective need to press on even further for our progress as women!’
Her opening line was met with a thunderous round of applause.
Akua’s story is an indication of how we need the help of all wonen around the globe to achieve the progress we seek. Imagine Zulaiha hadn’t helped Akua become a better woman?
Today remember to be an outstanding woman who is actively helpimg other women #pressforprogress.
Happy Women’s Day!