Is sending refugees to Rwanda the extent of Suella Braverman's aspirations? - Daxa Patel

Why do some women feel the need to be aggressive and confrontational? I mean what is it that they feel they need to prove? I am of course referring to some forceful female characters that put the rest of the female population to shame.

I am addicted to all things political. I know I recently mentioned giving our new PM unconditional support well, I need to backtrack on that a tad.

Why did he appoint Suella Braverman as Home Secretary? It defies logic. This move was ammunition and a distraction from getting down to business.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some women sadly feel the need to be more macho because they feel to do otherwise means they will not get noticed but getting noticed for all the wrong reasons is hardly a sign of good judgement which all leaders in all walks of life should have. Braverman had a dream to witness a flight full of refugees heading to Rwanda. If that is the extent of her aspiration, then I am truly disappointed.

Daxa Patel sat on her father's memorial bench in Golden Acre park in Leeds.Daxa Patel sat on her father's memorial bench in Golden Acre park in Leeds.
Daxa Patel sat on her father's memorial bench in Golden Acre park in Leeds.

I have not been a fan of Nicola Sturgeon, but I came to respect her decisiveness and compassion during the many press conferences she gave when we were in the thick of the pandemic. The New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern was another leader who projected humility and decisive leadership while Boris Johnson was bumbling through.

I know it is not easy for many women whichever industry they are in to climb the ladder but at what cost? Margaret Thatcher towards the end of her premiership was alienated despite her assuredness because she stopped listening.

I know women must work ten times harder to gain parity in the workplace and yes, things have evolved and improved, but in certain areas of life the glass ceiling remains intact. Women are perceived as soft, but soft doesn’t mean we are invisible, and if we are, we must accept in part we are to blame.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A woman in a leadership role needs to be comfortable in her own skin. We can get a lot done and make a bigger impact around us if we are true to ourselves but if we fear our own greatness the only loser is the self.

Talking of strong women I respect, I want to mention my friend Maureen who passed away recently, age 90. I was her Silverline friend for almost six years. The Silverline is a charity founded by Dame Esther Rantzen in 2012. Now we all know what a phenomenal and dynamic lady Dame Esther Rantzen is. Knowing her, this charity was destined to make a lasting impact, and it did for me and my friend.

It is thanks to Dame Esther that I became a volunteer. I would call Maureen once a week for a catch up, and to see how she was doing. The aim of the Silverline charity and friendship call is to help reduce isolation and support our senior citizens feel they matter.

Over the six years Maureen and I became good friends, though she lived in the South she was originally from Yorkshire. We often laughed as we both had the no nonsense Yorkshire approach to life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In total we spoke 266 times, we laughed at silly things, and we talked about serious subjects like dying. Our conversations took a new turn during the pandemic as we both had each other to share our fears and hopes with.

I saw my friend from this fiercely independent woman driving her neighbours to Morrisons for their weekly shopping, to giving up her treasured car following a minor accident, to then walking around her flat with the help of a three-wheel walker.

Maureen had experienced life during the blitz and she had seen real hardship unlike my generation.

During the pandemic she would say to me that this too will pass, and we will get through. She missed going to church and once said she was afraid of dying alone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As a volunteer I had to operate within the boundaries of my role, but we were in an uncertain place, so I encouraged her to talk about death and dying. It was a difficult yet necessary conversation.

Our calls would end with Maureen saying to me ‘thanks love for calling’. Over the years we put the world to right a million times over but what struck me about her was she was the epitome of an ordinary yet extraordinary being.

Despite the hardship of getting old she never gave up on feeling grateful for what she had. Her motto in life, there are plenty others who are worse off than us.

My friend died two days ago. Being a tiny part of her journey and her being a big part of mine was a privilege. I learnt a lot from her. We often see our senior citizens as if they have nothing more to offer but we are so wrong.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I hope the universe takes my message to her that I will be forever grateful that she came into my life. Power with grace is true leadership. Enough said.

Daxa Manhar Patel is a solicitor, author and executive coach.