Networking opens doors of opportunity

THE advancement of women in South Africa has been a priority since the ANC-led government took power.

THE advancement of women in South Africa has been a priority since the ANC-led government took power.

Corporates and some influential individuals have made it their business to highlight the importance of women in business and is opening doors of opportunity for them.

This week Absa and Shoprite, through their networking sessions, once again invited a panel of influential business role models and opinion leaders to a breakfast meeting where various topics affecting the development of women were discussed.

The sessions, titled Women Who Lead, are aimed at offering women, and men, the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge from some of the country's most influential business leaders.

Speaking at the session, Venete Klein, Absa's chief of corporate affairs, said such networking sessions were important to rid the country of gender oppression and inequality.

Inspirational testimonies and anecdotes have been heard from women such as Absa group CEO Maria Ramos, editor-in-chief of City Press Ferial Haffajee and MP Bertha Gxowa.

Klein said: "It is through such programmes that we can learn from one another. Women from rural and urban areas need to learn from one another.

"Another aspect we need to work hard on is providing credit finance to women's organisations, women entrepreneurs and women-owned cooperatives, so that we are able to facilitate leadership by women and self-actualisation."

Referring to a recent study by Kimani Ndungu, a senior researcher at the National Labour and Development Institute, Klein said gender equality was still "far from being realised in the workplace".

Despite employment equity legislation and affirmative action measures, women continue to be under-represented in the management and skilled trade categories.

Women make up only 23percent of all employers and 30percent of all managers in the workplace. On the other hand, almost 97percent of all domestic workers in South Africa are women.