Women’s Day 2016:
“When you strike a Woman, you strike a rock.”
by Lathasha Subban
“Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo, uza kufa! When you strike the women, you strike a rock, you will be crushed [you will die]!”
The song that became the anthem in celebrating Women’s Day. It echoed through the streets of Pretoria as 20 000 women of all races and ages, from all areas of South Africa marched towards the Union Buildings on the 9 August 1956. These brave women made history as they displayed the true spirit of sisterhood, as they protested against the proposed law at the time that would further restrict the movements of women. Four women led the way for all South African women born and unborn for generations to come.
The SABPP salutes Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Lilian Ngoyi. In 1956 South Africa produced powerful women that stood up for their rights and legacy, and today in the time of transformation, South Africa can smile proud as it’s women reach greatness in their lives.
The 1956 protest led by Rahima Moosa, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Sophie Williams.
It has been a long journey for women empowerment, transformation and pure equality for women to be recognised within South Africa and globally. Women’s Day is celebrated around the world and embraced by nations to show respect for women and their value in all areas of life. The South African Constitution Bill of Rights, section 9 clearly displays its support for equality that moved a country from biasness to democracy, but incorporating the promotion of women’s right to equality.
The SABPP has been very proactive in driving the transformation and development of women in the workplace by the publishing of the yearly Woman’s Report. The report differs year on year discussing research and areas of concern for women who juggle careers, family and the traditional expectations of being a woman. These reports are made available on the SABPP website (http://sabpp.co.za/research/womens-reports/) to ensure that the HR profession manages the dynamics in women empowerment effectively. This initiative is a collaboration with Prof Anita Bosch, Research programme – Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg.
“Though we have tremendous advances in the standing of women in South Africa, we need to take a step back and ask whether all women in our nation enjoys similar freedoms. And perhaps it is a time for sustainable activism to re-enter the national agenda.”
Prof Anita Bosch, Research programme – Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg.
Human Resources proves yet again to be a crucial piece of the puzzle that leads business in areas that relate to gender equality, women in leadership policies, policies (maternity leave and benefits), work life balance, wellness and the culture that embraces the transformation that includes women development and recruitment. HR is the heart of supporting women in their careers and assisting them to grow their professions from strength to strength.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Today women leadership is more evident. We see powerful female forces that disrupt the areas of a male dominated society. The likes of Thuli Madonsela, Devi Sankaree Govender, Michelle Obama, Ferial Haffajee, Gill Marcus, Helen Zille, Wendy Ngoma, Precious Moloi-Motsepe (to name only but a few), who are changing the world and the environment for women empowerment in different professions.
“As an African woman, I’ve learnt the importance of self-definition and living purposefully. It’s vital that every girl determines, as early as possible, who she is and what her contribution to humanity will be.”
South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela.
The 16th annual report of the Commission for Employment Equity reflects a continued slow pace of improvements in achieving equity which is still a major concern in democratic South Africa. Calls for economic transformation assume a greater urgency when management control and employment advancement opportunities remain disproportionately favourable to White males.
The SABPP is encouraged to see this shift in the Commission’s strategy. The findings of the SABPP and UJ’s Womens Report 2015 that there is an enduring pay gap between male and female employees in South Africa support these comments. The SABPP’s 2015 Fact Sheet on Equal Pay Audits sets out a process which organisations can use to ensure that this type of pay discrimination, where not justified, is identified and corrected.
The slow pace of women moving into leadership positions is improving yet still a concern. Women have fought to move away from the restrictions placed on them through a patriarchal society into a more diverse and recognised one. HR is then again looked at to drive these changes within the business environment by implementing employment equity policies, gender sensitisation and women leadership development programmes. A game changer in supporting the increase of female talent within the workforce is by creating access to education through learnership and bursary programmes.
HR needs to create benefit and understanding through the policies that do not discriminate against women, and developing a culture that drives gender equality within the workplace. The issues of equal pay, maternity, family responsibility, promotions for women have to be driven by HR to further expand the philosophy that drives our democracy in South Africa.
As per the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index 2015, exhibited South Africa ranked 17 out of 145 countries. Looking closely at the opportunities and access women have to education and leadership positions, the investment in promoting women education and their freedom of rights, South Africa is doing well in these areas. In comparison to some countries that still restrict the rights of women and their movements, South Africa through its Constitution drives and recognises women empowerment and gender equality. The index report below clearly displays the areas of weakness and strengths that South Africa sustains.
“Apart from the importance of the election, so much more it is apt to women around the world. Recently the youngest Noble prize winner, a young girl, stood up for education – she took the future of many in her own hands. Women are seen as mothers, wives, career women, sisters, aunts, caretakers and so much more. We freely give of ourselves to everybody around us.”
Annetjie Moore: SABPP Head HR Audit
Women need to lead women. Women need to empower other women through programmes like mentoring, coaching and create communities that share experiences and lessons. South Africa has developed strong women in Government, private sector, across different professions that break the boundaries that defined the “traditional woman”. Women in South Africa are more empowered and have the platforms to voice their demands and be heard. It’s a voice that still carries the echo of the march by those 20 000 women in 1956. It reminds us of our progress over the last sixty years and how much we still need to do.
Women of South Africa, stand proud and live free for the world has recognised your strength. Celebrate Women’s Day not because it is recognised but because it is a day that celebrates your strength, victory and legacy. Happy National Women’s Day.
This article was written by Lathasha Subban, Head: Knowledge and Innovation of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP). For more information, you can follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram @sabpp-1 or visit their website on www.sabpp.co.za
The 5th Annual SABPP Women’s Report will be released in August 2016.