More than 40 women met at the Sandton Holiday Inn Hotel in Johannesburg on January 28 to discuss issues surrounding women’s empowerment. UN Women Multi Country Office in partnership with private sector groups among them Business Engage and Business Women Association of South Africa hosted a Women Empowerment Principles awareness event for companies and women business association’s members.
Caroline Nyamayemombe of UN Women welcomed guests from different business sectors. She led a conversation on how women have to be versatile and deal with unusual situations in the work place. “Our venue is unusual but as women in business we have to constantly deal with unusual situations,” she said. She reiterated that in order to realize a prosperous Africa the workplace has to show inclusive growth of both men and women. “Our lessons we have learnt and the experiences we have as women are the solutions in growing an inclusive environment,” said Ms. Nyamayemombe
The event raised awareness and promoted commitment to the women’s empowerment principles (WEPs). These are a set of Principles for business offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The Principles numbering 7 in total emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and are informed by real-life business practices and input gathered from across the globe. Governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders have also communicated their support for the WEPs, recognizing the Principles as an important framework for engaging the private sector in achieving gender equality.
As a speaker and an author on the subject of gender mainstreaming, Colleen Larsen of Business Engage, is one of the leading voices for the sustainable advancement of women in the corporate and entrepreneurial space in South Africa today. She highlighted the importance of the collaboration of women in the workplace and community. The audience watched a video screening presented by WEPs. The video showcased the set of principles in action and showed a host of businesses and entrepreneurs that endorse each principle. In addition, Ayanda Vimbi of UN Women led a short discussion on the video and the practical implementation of the 7 principles.
National President of Business Women’s Association of South Africa(BWASA) Farzanah Mall, urged guests to share their reasons for going into business and their experiences as women in business. She broached the topic of sustainable development and highlighted that women are the driving force behind it. “We need to work together in order to achieve sustainable development,” she said. Furthermore, she discussed the mobilization of men in order to reach an inclusive society. “For us to reach planet 50/50 we need the engagement of men. We need to mobilize men, after all they were raised by women,” said Ms Mall. She stressed that women are the “ambassadors of change and empowerment.”