Bridging the Gender Gap Vital for Prosperity
According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, a total of 75 percent of unpaid work globally is undertaken by women.
This was heard by members of the audience at the recent Women’s Month Celebration Talk organised by the Corporate Relations Division and presented by UKZN alumnus and former SRC member, Dr Maureen Tong, under the theme: Diversity: Maximising on the Gender Dividend for the Good of Humankind.
Tong is a professional coach, international lawyer, published author, academic and businesswoman. Tong, who holds a PhD in International Law from the Université de Strasbourg in France, is also a lecturer at the Wits Business School, Coach Companion South Africa CEO, Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA) Pretoria Chapter Vice-President, and is the Deputy National Secretary of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA).
Referring to the McKinsey Global Institute report titled: The Power of Parity, Tong said there were interventions necessary to bridge the gender gap, including financial incentives and support; technology and infrastructure; the creation of economic opportunity; capability building; advocacy and shaping attitudes, laws, policies and regulations.
She said unless South Africa had quotas in place and enforced sanctions and penalties as well as having incentives for complying companies, there would be no visible growth in gender equality.
She also highlighted statistics that proved that women-led companies and those with a large female representation on their boards were performing better than those led by men.
Referring to other countries such as Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Germany which have taken the lead in gender equality and development, she said, ‘This is a clear example showing that when you empower women, you do it for the good of humankind.’
She stressed that women currently in leadership roles also needed to be supported, adding that the country’s patriarchal system did not support women and undermined their achievements.
She reminded women never to apologise for their success and to find the right people to support them.
Speaking on the current treatment of women in South Africa, she decried the current brutality of gender-based violence and highlighted the struggle faced by rural women for basic needs such as food, shelter and healthcare.
UKZN Acting Director: University Relations, Dr Sally Frost, thanked Tong for an interesting talk which reminded the University that empowering women was good for everyone.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu