Equality for all

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With the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 painting a sobering picture of a 135-year wait for South Africa alone to achieve economic gender equality, SVAI’s multifaceted approach in 2023 – from combating gender-based violence with the #ITSNOTOK movement to fostering collaborations through the African Universities Gender Equality Forum – underscores the urgent need for concerted efforts

Across Africa, where disparities between genders are deeply rooted, there’s an imperative need for businesses to prioritise gender equality in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 5 – a critical area of development for societal and economic advancement. The Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum projects a daunting timeline for Sub-Saharan Africa, estimating 102 years to close its overall gender gap. Even more striking, South Africa faces a staggering 135 years to bridge the economic participation and opportunity gap, as highlighted by Statista’s Gender Gap Index in South Africa 2023. These figures are not just numbers but a stark representation of the dire situation that underscores the necessity for immediate and sustained action.

In response to this critical need, the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) has been at the forefront of advocating for gender equality across the continent. The SVAI’s efforts in 2023 have been multifaceted, focusing on promoting sustainable development practices that include gender equality as a core element. SVAI has been particularly active in combating gender-based violence (GBV) through the #ITSNOTOK movement, which seeks to create safer and more inclusive environments for everyone. With extensive awareness campaigns, insightful research, and the development of critical support tools, SVAI is dedicated to making tangible impacts in the fight against GBV and advancing gender equality.

The African Universities Gender Equality Forum stands out as a key advocacy platform, bringing together academia, civil society, and the private sector since 2021. This virtual forum fosters discussions and collaborations aimed at promoting gender equality within educational institutions and the workplace. By providing a space for young leaders and academic institution leadership to voice their perspectives, the forum facilitates active participation in the battle against GBV and the promotion of gender equality, highlighting the vital role of academia in societal change.

SVAI’s strategic partnerships have been instrumental in advancing gender equality. By collaborating with partners like the Gautrain Management Agency, Safaricom, JCDecaux, KPMG, and universities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, SVAI has explored effective measures to address gender disparities. These partnerships focus on increasing the representation of women in leadership, promoting equal pay for equal work, and preventing sexual harassment and discrimination. For instance, Gautrain Management Agency has made significant strides in achieving gender diversity, with a board composition of 67% female. Safaricom’s Women in Leadership program aims for 50:50 gender parity at all levels by 2025, already showing promising results. JCDecaux’s impactful billboards campaign and KPMG’s comprehensive gender equality initiatives exemplify the wide-ranging efforts to foster a more inclusive and equitable business environment.

A significant milestone last year was the launch of the Gender Equality Self-Assessment Tool and Implementation Guide at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. This event, attended by senior executives and key decision-makers, underscored the critical role of businesses in advancing gender equality. It not only raised awareness but also encouraged the adoption of inclusive practices within organisations. The engagement and insights shared at the launch highlighted the transformative power of collaboration and commitment to gender equality.

As businesses in Africa and beyond recognise the importance of gender equality, the initiatives led by SVAI in 2023 serve as a beacon of hope and a call to action. The journey towards gender equality is indeed challenging and long. However, by integrating gender equality into business operations and aligning efforts with all SDGs, a fair, inclusive, and sustainable future can be envisioned. The work done by SVAI and its partners is a testament to the potential of collective action in overcoming the barriers to gender equality, setting a precedent for businesses across Africa to follow.