FREE TO READ | Celebrating Women magazine focuses on strides made in Africa
Gender equality progress around the world is slow, and in some cases losing ground, but there is still much to draw inspiration from
In the lead-up to the 67th UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women, held in March 2023, UN General Assembly secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “Gender equality is growing more distant. On the current track, UN Women puts it 300 years away.”
He went on to say: “Women’s rights are being abused, threatened and violated around the world”, and this is true in every space where women live, work and play.
If this “300 years away” remark is to be internalised, it is a source of dismay and helplessness. No one will argue that, in SA for instance, progress on gender equality has been slow — according to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2023, the labour market in SA remains more favourable to men than women, revealing large gender gaps in employment. However, we must acknowledge the huge strides women across our continent are making.
A study of 2,020 companies listed on the 24 African stock exchanges, along with Bloomberg data, revealed in the Definitive List of Women CEOs from Africa.com and Standard Bank Group that, while only 5% of companies listed on Africa’s 24 stock exchanges have a woman as CEO, those companies outperform financially by a wide measure.
Bertina Engelbrecht is on that list, and in our conversation with her in this issue of Celebrating Women, she shares: “You achieve a great deal more if you can leverage everybody’s uniqueness in terms of their lived experiences, cultural backgrounds and education. You must be authentic in who you are to be a credible leader.”
Engelbrecht was the first black woman to lead a listed retail group in SA, taking the helm of the Clicks Group in early 2022. Despite tough economic times Clicks, under her leadership, has delivered strong turnover and profit growth, expanded its retail footprint, and acquired its first 24-hour pharmacy, with extensive store and pharmacy rollout plans for 2023.
It’s this type of resilience and inclusive leadership style that we celebrate and draw inspiration from across the winners and finalists in the 2023 Gender Mainstreaming Awards Africa and the many conversations we’ve held with women in various sectors in this year’s Celebrating Women.