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Fearless Female Leadership: Can You Find a More Ethical Leader?

September 14, 2009

Lubna-Hussein-is-greeted--001 Former journalist and United Nations press officer Lubna Hussein has shown incredible leadership in the face of punishment by the brutal Sudanese government. What was her crime? The 34 year old widow had the audacity to wear pants in public. She was arrested in July, and at her conviction at the end of August was spared a public flogging and given a $200 fine. However, she refused to pay the fine, saying that she’d rather spend a month in prison.

Of special interest is that 12 other women were arrested along with Hussein, but they were dealt with quickly by the courts and subsequently flogged. Because of her position with the UN, Hussein had immunity from prosecution. She resigned her post and insisted on a public court.

Not surprisingly, public outrage from around the world erupted once her story got out. Hussein stated that she would push the issue all the way to Sudan’s constitutional court, and that she’d be prepared to receive 400 lashes if necessary to abolish the pants law. But as she asserted: “I am Muslim; I understand Muslim law. But I ask: What passage in the Koran says women can’t wear pants? This is not nice.”

Here we have another example of where women in developing countries are being repressed and when they stand up for a cause they are often imprisoned and beaten. Yet there are many examples of fearless women who have stood up and taken a stand, regardless of the consequences. They know right from wrong and do not wish to comply with what they view as contrary to their values. Whether it is Afghan women who refuse to wear burkas or Nigerian females who are reasserting their demand for equality, there appears to be a gradual emergence of a stronger voice among women around the world.

A great deal can be learned from the leadership displayed by these courageous women. Their sense of moral purpose is something from which males can learn and apply, whether in corporations or the public sector.

What stories can you share on fearless female leadership?

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