Women Mean Business

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Uncategorised | 0 comments

Women Mean Business

Every year in South Africa on the 9th August,  we honour women by celebrating Women’s Day.   It’s an official public holiday, devoted to women, across all spectrums of society.  Today, in the second week of the new year, I want to make mention of the unseen and largely unacknowledged community of women who inspire and humble me.

I am busy creating a Women in Leadership seminar, devoted to women who lead and inspire their staff and their teams in organisations and businesses in South Africa.  Women in business face particular challenges in leadership roles which I will cover in another blog, but for today, let’s pause a moment to consider and honour who we are as women,  what we represent to our families, our friends, our colleagues and our clients.  Women’s Day is distinctly different in context to Mother’s Day, a day when we honour our mother’s with small gifts, cards and tokens of love and appreciation.

Women’s Day is a celebration of woman in all her myriad roles. Women who have dreams, goals and desires, women from all walks of life, many of whom are well educated and others who have never opened a book, nor held a pen in their hands.  Wherever you travel in this vast  land of ours,  you will see women toiling in fields, sweeping their yards, opening their spaza shops, making cement blocks to build homes for their families, walking their young to school, carrying water in buckets or woodpiles on their heads.  These women are strong, courageous and inspirational.  These are the women of Africa who, although they might not hold degrees nor have certificates to frame and hang in offices, are the backbone of their families, communities and small business enterprises.  They are women entrepreneurs who wake at dawn each day knowing they have mouths to feed, children to educate and dreams and goals to achieve. Women deep with wisdom and intuitive knowledge of their purpose, place and commitment to their task.

Forbes Magazine annually lists the world’s 100 most powerful women.  These are women who have achieved great ambitions, earned millions of dollars and have serious media coverage.  That’s why they make it into Forbes coveted list each year.  Women who have broken through glass ceilings, have sacrificed much, worked agonisingly long hours, studied hard and achieved much.  These women mean business.  Their journeys have seen them overcome many obstacles, prejudices and possibly gender bias issues, to arrive at the pinnacle of their careers.

Our women in Africa mean business too.   Their journeys are no less challenging. You might not see them on Forbes list, but that does not mean their contribution is less meaningful or inspiring to a younger generation of women.  The African Development Bank Group in 2013 noted that  the informal sector contributes around 55 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and 80 per cent of the labour force, with nine in 10 rural and urban workers having  informal jobs in Africa, with most employees being women and youth.

So when the 9th of May 2014 ushers in a day of rest for the women of South Africa, let’s raise our voices and give thanks to these remarkable women.

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