As we celebrate this Women’s Month, we exult the remarkable women who are trailblazers in their respective fields – occupying their spaces and setting the standard.
In South Africa, 9 August is Women’s Day and the month of August is National Women’s Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate the important role that women of all demographics have played and continue to play not only in South African society but globally.
The celebration of International Women’s Day has since stimulated major historical events such as our own 1956 march to the Union Building.
On that day, about 20 000 women marched to protest against legislation aimed at tightening the apartheid government’s policies in a demonstration so significant, we still speak of it today!
The rich history of women organizing around the world was officially recognized by the United Nations to celebrate women’s contributions to all societies.
The focus of International Women’s Day ranges from showing respect, appreciation, and love towards women, to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements. It aims to build on the strength and courage of women’s equal rights, equal opportunities, and progress for all.
It is important to highlight women’s achievements and discuss their continuous emerging empowerment, gender equality issues, concerns, challenges, and commitments.
According to the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Women’s Month will be used to eradicate another pandemic – gender-based violence and femicide. President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude towards the first phase of an innovative Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Private Sector Response Fund which, has, to date, received some R141 million in pledges.
The government’s strategy is focused on accountability, coordination, and leadership; prevention and rebuilding social cohesion, justice, safety and protection; response, care, support and healing; economic power; and research and information management.
There are currently 32 designated regional courts handling sexual offenses in various parts of the country. Also, around 3500 family violence, child protection, and sexual offenses investigating officers have received specialized training to do their work.
It is imperative to find workable and sustainable solutions to a very complex socio-economic situation. We must remember that gender equality is not a feminine problem, but a social and economic imperative. We must include men in this equation.
After all, they make up about half of the global population — not to mention the majority of the leadership positions. Men hold 79 percent of executive positions and if we’re looking at CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, male representation balloons to 93 percent. The best way to move the conversation to action is to include all parties in the equation.
The good news is that most men support gender equality, even if they do not always know how to turn that support into action. The research found that while 60 percent of men support having more women leaders in their workplace, women report that men overstate their efforts to be allies and lack an understanding of the issues women face. Equality is not a leadership issue; it is a leadership opportunity. And because men currently hold the majority of leadership positions, they have the unique opportunity to take action and spearhead change.
I challenge each of you, regardless of the gender you identify with or the position you hold, to commit to one action to advance equality. It can be as small as listening or as big as changing organizational policies, but the impact will be enormous.
Women of South Africa, be proud of what you have achieved! Let the achievements of those who went before you inspire you to unlock your strength and motivate you to make a difference in your family, your community, or your country. Set goals and achieve them!
And to both men and women: Respect each other for our opinions and strengths to make serious progress in accomplishing a healthy society.
To our nation: Go out and make a difference this Women’s Month!
TMS Africa will be presenting a webinar on the 26th of August about Gender-Based Violence. Women’s month special is R300 for 4 CPD points. Please send an email to email@example.com if you are interested in attending this webinar.