Women under-represented in leadership positions

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pretoria - Women are under-represented in leadership positions and form a large group of unemployed people in the country, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

"The South African private sector is very clear in that women are significantly under-represented in leadership positions and over-represented among the unemployed in our country," said Davies on Monday.

Davies, who was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Women Empowerment Principles, said the private sector should spearhead as well as support women empowerment. The event was attended by chief executive officers of companies at the launch of the seven principles.

"The significance of this launch lies in the fact that although there have been efforts in government to promote gender equality and certainly efforts by a number of corporates to do the same, the overall picture in South Africa is slightly above some indexes and somehow below other indexes on the international average, which in itself is well below what it needs to be," he explained.

Establishing high level corporate leadership for gender equality; ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all workers; the fair and equal treatment of all women at work, and the support of human rights and non-discrimination form part of the principles. The principles also aim to promote education, training and professional development for women as well as to implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.

The principles also seek to promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy, as well as measure and publicly report on progress to achieve equality.

"Gender equality calls for a more holistic approach in order to tackle the inter-connected causes that create the inequalities," said Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe, who was also at the launch.

The South African Chapter of International Federation of Business and Professional Women president, Toni Gomez, said her organisation and the dti were launching the Women on Boards register, Women-owned Enterprises certification and Women in Trade register programmes.

"The programmes offer practical options to advance women and point the way to a business and social environment that is both fairer and more prosperous for everyone," said Gomez.

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