Visionary Woman Rising

Visionary Woman Rising

by Fariba Bowen

In their call for nominations for their Women Changing South Africa feature, the Mail and Guardian mentions that 2019 has been dubbed the year of the visionary woman. Quoting from their article, they shared:

“We are seeing stories of women shattering ceilings, redefining what it means to be successful and speaking out about the injustices in their communities and beyond.

These women are groundbreakers. Truth tellers. Change agents.

They are challenging the status quo. Marching on the streets and playing their role in shaping the nation we live in. These outstanding individuals stand on the shoulders of a long line of resilient, bold and renegade women who came before them.”

An Independent Online feature article for Women’s Month reported that according to executive search firm Jack Hammer, the appointment of women in corporate positions is rising consistently, from 26% in 2015, to 32% (2016), 38% (2017) and ultimately, 52% last year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also walked the talk, ensuring a 50% representation in his Cabinet which has washed down to provincial government appointments that have mirrored the president.

Recently, at least three prominent female chief executive appointments were made in South Africa, with Anglo announcing the appointment of veteran executive Nolitha Fakude, as chair of the group, accounting firm PwC putting forward Shirley Machaba as its new chief executive for Southern Africa and Naspers appointing Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, as its first black and female chief executive.

But still, only 3.3% of chief executives on the JSE are women. Women are still mostly to be found in supporting roles, such as human resources, marketing, legal, and compliance. Very few run full-scale business divisions, or have accountability for profit-and-loss, operations or finance.

If companies are truly motivated to shift the needle on the gender demographic, when it comes to chief executive and senior supporting roles, they have to start populating their executive teams with a sufficient number of women, in relevant roles.

Alongside gender parity, in terms of appointments of women in corporates, is the issue of the gender pay gap. According to a recently released PwC report, there is no sector in which, overall, female executive directors are paid more than men. The largest pay gaps are in healthcare (28.1%), followed by consumer discretionary (25.1%), technology (22.9%) and financials (21.8%). 

The PwC report concludes that to bring about real change, companies should not address gender parity and diversity concerns to appease individuals or organisations, but should treat these initiatives as being essential components in their long-term success.

It is known that women bring a whole different set of qualities into leadership positions that help to create a more balanced, empathetic and successful working environment. A Business News Daily survey of female leaders on women in power highlights some of the strengths of feminine leadership:

  1. They value work-life balance.
  2. They are great listeners.
  3. They are nurturing.
  4. They focus on teamwork.
  5. They’re good at multi-tasking.
  6. They’re strong communicators.
  7. They have high emotional intelligence.
  8. They’re strong communicators.
  9. They lead by example.
  10. They check their egos.

Women are less likely than men to push themselves into power positions. It will therefore take a consciousness shift on the part of men to recognize the value that women bring to organizations and make space for women to lead and for women to have courage to recognize, own and develop their natural leadership potential.

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.” – Maya Angelou

Putting Some Numbers to Gender Inequality in the Workplace

Putting Some Numbers to Gender Inequality in the Workplace

by Alex Kinmont

Since the Suffragettes won us the vote a century ago, the fight for gender equality has been making unsteady progress. Today, we are still nowhere near a perfect balance.

Globally, women’s pay and participation in the workforce has significantly improved in the past century. Yet, it still has a long way to go. The World Bank Group’s 2019 report on Women, Business and the Law finds that only 6 countries in the entire world have closed the gender gap with a perfect score of 100.

The score is calculated according to key questions on law restrictions by gender, including how easily women are able to travel, get a job, get paid well, receive maternity leave and pay and run a business. South Africa scores 88. We may be placing it in the top third of results, but we still need to ask why our legislature is not 100% equal.


Where do we improve?

A 2018 Statssa report notes that the female NEET rate (not in employment, education or training) is consistently higher than that of men. For black women, the NEET rate is at its highest of over 40%.

It is nothing new that education is one of the most important sectors in South Africa which needs to be improved. Where Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment assists with black unemployment, change from a grassroots level is slower and in need.

104 countries have at least one law restricting women’s choice of work. These range from not being able to drive buses with more the 14 seats in Moldova, to selling alcohol in Argentina.

Even once employed, women and particularly women fluoxymesterone cycle for women dan trist of colour are disadvantaged. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Gender gap report, women today are earning the same as men ten years ago – half of men’s current earnings.

This is not to mention the amount of unpaid labour which women do. Taking care of young children is a time-consuming and strenuous job, one without which our world cannot function.

So why are women not compensated for such work?

Traditional gender roles have dictated that women are predominantly the caregivers, entrenching a pattern of women staying home while men work. Before the industrial revolution, this made sense as work was strenuous labour and men had the strength.


However, it is not the case today, and hasn’t been for quite some time. Yet this history now plays a role in today’s gender inequality. The idea of domestic work being seen as women’s work is a major factor contributing to the Gender Pay Gap.

Globally, men’s participation in the labour force is 26% higher than women’s.

When it comes to succeeding in the workplace, there is once again a definite imbalance. Around the world, senior positions are dominated by white men. As one moves up the corporate ladder, the percentage of white men gets higher, whereas for white women, and even more so for men and women of colour, it drastically decreases. Only 32% of managers in South Africa are women.

There is clearly a long road ahead for the fight for gender equality. For South Africa and the world, the idea of the feminine needs to change. Women need to be given the same opportunities for education, for employment and for promotions. They need to be paid the same, and they need to be compensated for unpaid labour such as childcare.

Feminism is not women being better than men. Feminism is women being equal to men. Feminism is equality, something clearly still lacking in the modern day.