And this is why we believe in the importance of Women’s day. As educators and thought leaders we need to start with creating awareness, and call out gender bias and inequality.
“It’s important to acknowledge women’s achievements, to address issues that are restricting the acceleration of gender parity, and to focus on solutions to remediate the situation,” says Kennedy Ndlovu, Executive Director, Boston Education Trust.
The Trust aims to enable South Africans to play their part in growing our economy. “Institutions and individuals who have the means must actively support transformation, and comply with both the spirit and the content of the B-BBEE Act . The Boston Education Trust is focussed on the advancement of Black Females by supporting their studies in Information Technology” says Kennedy.
South Africa has made progress towards equality, but there is still a long way to gender parity. Women make up over half of the population in South Africa, yet they remain under-represented in positions of authority. Women comprise 32% of the Supreme Court of Appeal judges, 31% of advocates, 30% of ambassadors and 24% of executive heads of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Men hold 68% of all senior management positions, women hold 32% of executive positions.
Gender parity setbacks of COVID-19
With Covid-19, women bore the brunt of the economic impact. “Setbacks in work force participation and income, impacts on pensions and savings will have long-term implications for women’s economic security far down the road,” says Kennedy. A recent SweepSouth survey showed that many domestic workers lost their jobs during Covid, and many households have elected either not to re-employ workers full-time, or not to employ domestic workers at all. Women make up 39% of global employment but account for 54% of overall job losses as of May 2020. Kennedy provides the following insights:
Investment in education from corporates, educational institutions, and government will provide opportunities for women to gain skills and knowledge in areas which are typically male dominated. The Boston Education Trust focusses on increasing the number of black female IT graduates.
2. Challenging current infrastructure
Mckinsey’s previous research on the impact of long-term automation trends on work concluded that, 7 to 24 percent of those currently employed—may need to transition across occupations by 2030 as automation transforms the nature of work. What this means is that women should be gaining broad business skills, such as those of the Boston BSocSci degree, a fourth IR degree.
3. Gender Pay Gap
The ‘gender pay gap’ is the difference between the average wages of men and women, regardless of their seniority. ‘Equal pay’ is about ensuring that there are no unjustified pay differences between employees who perform ‘work of equal value’.
4. Business and workplace
Assess internal culture and behaviour which contribute to the underlying problem. Organisations should identify and better understand how to attract, develop, and retain female talent at all levels.
5. Overcoming Bias
Unconscious discrepancies have been inculcated in society for both males and females in terms of which gender is better suited for different types of work and thinking. Boston has slightly more female than male students, this ratio needs to be represented in positions of authority in the workplaces.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organisation, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." Make a positive difference for women. Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.