On February 10th, we launched our first little by little campaign in support of women’s empowerment and had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A with Solange Tuyishime. Solange currently serves as the President and CEO of Elevate International, is a UNICEF Canada Ambassador and the Founder of Naylah’s Legacy. She has dedicated her life to advancing women and girls’ leadership globally.
During the inaugural event of our campaign, Solange told her story explaining what motivated her to become an advocate for women’s empowerment and shared her views on what organizations can do to help uplift and elevate women.
In life, everyone experiences circumstances that shape your view of the world. For Solange, this happened when she was an 11 year old girl growing up surrounded by war and genocide. During a moment of fear and distress, she made a promise to herself and the universe: if she survived, she would dedicate her life to doing something impactful for the world.
Solange would keep this dream in mind for every decision and moment moving forward. From moving to Canada, to discovering a passion for volunteering, obtaining her Masters degree, becoming a mother, and starting her own not-for-profit organizations, Solange continues to fulfill her promise to support women and girls.
When discussing all of the issues people face in the world, Solange acknowledged that women are often at the center of it and then asked “so why are they often not at the leadership table? How can we make decisions that impact them when they’re not there?” In Canada, while over 80% of women aged 25-54 participate in the workforce, they are still underrepresented in leadership roles as women only hold 25% of vice-president and 15% of CEO positions.
Entering into a leadership role does not occur easily, especially for women who have been isolated from these positions their whole lives. Elevate International is building a “new era” for empowering women - one that is looking to create a foundation of support for all women while also recognizing the different struggles and barriers that women face.
This has become increasingly apparent throughout the pandemic as women who are already underrepresented in leadership roles had to face new challenges of balancing work, family life, and additional stresses. Even through finding this balance and excelling, women often feel unrecognized or unsupported by their organizations. In contrast, the pandemic also highlighted the importance of having women in decision-making roles during times of uncertainty because women’s leadership styles tend to be heart-centered and puts people first.
Solange notes, “if you want more women to be leaders, and build a world with diversity and inclusion for all - it needs to happen at a young age.”
She suggests we support girls’ leadership abilities from the very beginning and not limit how they act or think. That’s why Elevate International provides young girls the opportunity to learn the necessary skills and provides them with mentoring opportunities.
Other ways that businesses can help tackle inequality in their own workplace is to appropriately recognize women for their contributions and create a culture of honesty. “Remember you are human first. Lead as a human being and recognize those within the company as human beings,” Solange explains as a way to have authentic conversations to create change from within. Women also need to be able to celebrate themselves, share their experiences and advocate for one another in order to change what leadership looks like. By doing so, we can collectively move towards a future where gender parity is realized.
McCabe is proud to have had the opportunity to host Solange Tuyishime, and work together to #BreakTheBias.
Curious to learn more about our event with Solange? Check out this feature from ASI!
Learn how we are empowering women & giving back to local charities here.