Premier calls for gender equity in private sector

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Northern Cape - Premier of the Northern Cape Hazel Jenkins has challenged the private sector to promote a more equitable workplace.

"Of grave concern, is that the private sector continues to lag very far behind on matters of the advancement of women. We thus challenge them to join government and all strategic partners in encouraging more women to assume leadership positions in the business sector."

She said the lag was in contradiction to Cabinet and government which were lauded throughout the world as an example of women's empowerment and the equal representation in its decision-making in public institutions.

The premier was speaking at a conference on leadership development for women in government and state-owned enterprises on Thursday.

Government will continue to influence the promotion of women's development around the country, and ensure that women are treated with the respect that they deserve

Ms Jenkins said that leadership development for women was an issue which was close to her heart and she was committed to the objective of equal opportunity for women in the workplace.

"[I] will work tirelessly to achieve an increased representation of women in the leadership and decision-making structures, with the ultimate aim of equal representation," said the premier.

She said women have dominated the lower echelons of the business sector for far too long, and in some countries they were paid less than men for the same type of job.

"We must further ensure that women are integrated into the economic mainstream and also that Black Economic Empowerment must have a special bias towards women."

She said the institutions of learning also had a role to play in skilling and expanding the opportunities for women to more fully develop their leadership roles. This will in turn result in a strengthened South African society as a whole, as well as enhancing the country's broader development prospects.

Regarding the Northern Cape Provincial Government's plans to ensure equality in the workplace, Ms Jenkins said it would reactivate the follow-up mechanism of the Office of the Premier to regularly monitor compliance with the constitutional principle of equality, and confront all discriminatory practices against women in ministries and the governmental sector.

She said the province would ensure it legal frameworks were effective and criminalize all forms of discrimination against women in all aspects of life and allows for the effective representation of women.

"We defend and guarantee that our gender-responsive policies emphasize equality at all levels, and in particular policies related to the development of leadership skills of employees," said the premier.