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Every person, as recognized by Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has the right to take part in the government of his or her country. This is based on the premise that equal participation of men and women in economic and political affairs makes governments and companies more representative of the composition of society; it makes them more accountable and transparent, and also ensures that the interests of women are taken into account in policy-making. Women, however, have traditionally been excluded (and continue to be excluded) from power and decision-making processes.
The Black Management Forum (BMF) Women’s Desk resolutely supports the United Nations’ (UNs’) stance that “gender equality should be a moral imperative in government, business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the society at large”. Women’s struggle for equality is not an issue that belongs to a single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights. As correctly expressed by the Executive Director of United Nations (UN) Women, Phumzile MlamboNgcuka ahead of International Women’s Day 2020 (IWD), “the benefits of gender equality are not just for women and girls, but “for everyone whose lives will be changed by a fairer world”.
What makes the gender transformation project difficult is the gender bias that is still deeply embedded in cultures, economies, political and social institutions around the world. Women and girls face unacceptable levels of discrimination and abuse in the home, the workplace and the society, which is not only repugnant and illicit, but also prevents them from playing a fundamental role in society and decision-making.
Although the economic participation of women has increased and there is an increase in the amount of women who are occupying positions that were previously male dominated, the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report shows that the participation of women in the labour market remains stagnant and that, on average, the THE BMF WOMEN’S DESK PRESS RELEASE TO: PRINT & ELECTRONIC MEDIA HOUSES FROM: THE BMF WOMEN’S DESK SUBJECT: MESSAGE FROM THE BMF WOMEN’S DESK COMMEMORATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY DATE: 10 March 2020 2 | P a g e percentage of women (aged 15-64) in the labour market is 55%, versus that of men which is 78%
The empowerment of women and girl children, therefore, is vital to attain the economic means and criteria needed to achieve sustainable development. Developing and deploying women has a fundamental bearing on whether economies and societies thrive. Thus, women’s events such as IWD should not be narrowly confined to a one-day event, they should be an everyday reality which is characterized by the consistent celebration, honour and empowerment of women and girl children.
It is also crucial for government, business, NGOs and the society, in their pursuit of gender transformation, to also include boys and men in their efforts and initiatives. Boys and men have a salient role to play in supporting the empowerment of women, speaking out against violence against women and girl children, and fighting for gender equality.
In its contribution towards building a gender equal South Africa, the BMF Women’s Desk will continue to immerse itself in,
- advocating for the education of girl children, especially those who come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds,
- empowering black female professionals through programmes dedicated to addressing critical issues they face in the workplace,
- participation in platforms to strengthen policies that seek to ensure the empowerment and development of girl children and women, uphold their rights and ensure their safety and protection in the home, the workplace and the society.
The BMF Women’s Desk chooses to actively challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, improve the current state of gender inequality and celebrate women’s achievements.
We are #generationequlity. The BMF Women’s Desk Chair and the BMF Deputy President, Ms. Tasneem Fredericks, has not only called for better and more participation in boards by women but also for more women led boards to accelerate the gender inequality faced by women in corporate South Africa. In fact, she is quoted as saying: “Men should refuse to be led by boards that are not led by women”.
About the Black Management Forum
The Black Management Forum (the BMF) has been in existence for 44 years. It is a thought-leadership organization with the main purpose of influencing socio-economic transformation in our country, in pursuit of socio-economic justice, fairness and equity. The BMF stands for the development and empowerment of managerial leadership and the creation of managerial structures and processes that reflect the demographics and values of the wider society