Can a woman have it all?

womaEvery time I get a chance to have a conversation with very successful and accomplished women, one question I never fail to ask them is “CAN A WOMAN HAVE IT ALL?” I bet you are familiar with the notion and mind set in this part of the globe whereby when a woman has done well for herself, the first question often asked is “Is she married”? And if the answer is no, the next response will be “Who will marry her now? It will be hard for her to get married o!” And when a woman is married and accomplished, people fear that the marriage will hit the rocks as it is opined that successful women can’t keep a home. It’s either their career or their family…but they can’t have both!

Universally, it is acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of and is ready for a wife. Sad to say, the reverse is the case for a woman. Very successful women are not perceived as good wife materials. Even with our newfound enlightenment and freedoms, we are still bound by certain realities that have us facing tough decisions and women are asked to sacrifice certain aspects of life in order to fulfill others.

Today’s society puts unattainable demands on women to be so many different things. From the fairy tales of adolescence to the reality adulthood, we are trained to feel that you haven’t really made it if your life doesn’t come complete with a man and children. So, there is the pressure to have a family combined with a career and a social life…this therefore births the question; CAN A WOMAN HAVE IT ALL?

Dream big and believe in yourself – it’s not who you think you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” If you want it all…you can have it all. Just go for it!

By having it all I mean having an amazing career, husband, children and a fulfilled life. I am not talking about a perfect or complete life or one without challenges…No! I’m talking about an attempt at balancing both career and motherhood! Yes, crafting this balance between your career, personal and family life can be one of the most challenging and daunting parts of being a top performer, especially when everyone wants a piece of you. A balanced life still is more elusive for women than it is for men. A simple measure is how many men in top positions have to go back home and tend the family after a hard day’s job just like their female colleagues?

So, how do you create an environment where you can succeed — and stay involved in the lives of the people you care about? Unless she is married to an exceptional man, the woman of the house is still mostly responsible for meal planning and preparation, laundry, childcare, and keeping the home picked up and clean. Some may hire nannies for childcare and cleaning ladies for some of the household duties, but most women don’t have the luxury of hiring that kind of help.

Whether we like it or not, most women still manage the bulk of the work associated with raising kids and managing a home. So whether they’re working, caring for aging or sick loved ones, or furthering their education while they work, establishing the appropriate work/life balance has become a significant challenge and a reality for most women across the country and around the globe.

Today, women constitute nearly half of the workforce. There have never been so many women in leadership positions around the world. And there has never been so much talk about being a woman in business. In fact, there has never been a better time in history to be a woman.

Nonetheless, the basic fact remains that very few women reach leadership positions or the peak of career or chosen endeavor. The pool of female candidates for any top job is always small and will only grow smaller if women of this generation continue to cling to the feminist credo we were raised with that has an unresolvable tension between family and career.

Men generally believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, on the other hand believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver. True as this is, “having it all” depends primarily on the depth and intensity of a woman’s commitment to her career whilst fulfilling this primary role as a caregiver and the most important career decision she can ever make in her life-choosing the right partner!

Yes, the Man a Woman marries can determine whether she can have it all or not! With a supportive partner willing to share the parenting and caregiving load, there are no limits to what women can achieve, whether through entrepreneurship, government, non-profits, arts, science or any other path they choose. There is plenty of room for women at the top…and a woman can really have it all!

While some say this is impossible, many women in our society today are actually proving it is very possible to have it all- the likes of Tara Durotoye, Betty Irabor, Ibukun Awosika, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Nike Ogunlesi and of course Folorunsho Alakija, Africa’s richest woman, just to mention a few. These are women who are highly accomplished and very successful in their different fields of endeavor, well known in Nigeria, Africa and indeed world over yet they have an amazing family, personal and social life.

These women help demonstrate the possibility of earning a successful career and having a happy family. They serve as mentors and teach us to be strong, powerful, full of love… all at the same time. They tell us we can have it all and inspire us to go get it!

As Alberga put it, “Dream big and believe in yourself – it’s not who you think you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” If you want it all…you can have it all. Just go for it!
Mercy Makinde is a Speaker, Writer, Coach and Entrepreneurship Advocate.

Mercy MakindeMercy Makinde is a speaker, writer, coach and entrepreneurship advocate. She owns an online radio Station, Iaspire Radio, Nigeria’s first motivational radio Station; and a motivational and inspirational blog;

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