Editor's Note

The strength of a woman

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The argument of increasing female empowerment has become so embedded in our social and business conversations we are now running the risk of becoming desensitised. The challenge with desensitisation lies in the said word, what could/should grab our attention becomes normal. It stops dominating our conversations and becomes a ‘boring’ subject. Sadly, I believe the issue of gender equality and female empowerment has gone in that direction, when it should always be on the agenda as a key topic.

According to the latest figures released by stats SA, There are more women than men in South Africa. A meet up of 1 000 people that perfectly represents the country’s population of 56,5 million would consist of 511 women and 489 men. In short, women make up 51% of the total population in the country.

Unfortunately despite this number disparity which clearly shows women make up just over half of the population, they remain relatively unrepresented in positions of authority and power. This goes against the country’s Constitution, which sets out gender equality as a founding principle. The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill in particular calls for 50% representivity in decision-making positions.

If we consider the entire workforce, 44 in every 100 employed individuals are women. Women fill 44% of skilled posts, which includes managers, professionals and technicians. This figure hasn’t shifted much over the years; it was 44% in September 2002.

Although South Africa has made great strides, gender representivity is still below the 50% mark for positions that come with a great deal of influence, according to data from 2014. Women comprised 32% of Supreme Court of Appeal judges, 31% of advocates, 30% of ambassadors and 24% of heads of state-owned enterprises. A brief look at the top JSE companies’ senior board members and executives also goes according to form, making for grim reading.

Parliament fares a lot better. South Africa is ranked as the tenth country in the world with the most number of females in parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with just over 4 in every 10 benches held by a woman. The recently announced cabinet by President Ramaphosa also reflects the notable representation of women in politics and must be commended.

As we celebrate the month of August, and reflect on female empowerment let us remember how topical this conversation is. Leaders adhere to the needs of their society, we should march to form and ensure the constitution is respected in all facets of our lives. I hope you find this August edition a great read.

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