IFC Launch Respect@Work In South Africa

Array ( [0] => 6 ) News,


In 2023, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, launched the Respect@Work program in South Africa. The Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) was appointed to collaborate with the IFC team in creating the content and learning materials for this program as well as deliver the required training. This initiative aims to assist the private sector in addressing Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the workplace.

The Respect@Work program was inspired by a partnership formed in 2020 between the IFC and Business Fights Poverty, which produced the “How Can Business Tackle Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work” report. This collaboration led to the development of a Toolkit for Action, with contributions from Anglo American, Primark, and CARE International UK. The South Africa Respect@Work program, modelled on this toolkit, and supported by the content created and developed by the SVAI was officially launched on February 29th, 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The program features a comprehensive “Train the Trainer” five-day training course designed by the Shared Value Africa Initiative together with the IFC Team and the aim was to equip participants with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively deliver workplace training on GBV. The course aims to boost participants’ confidence and capacity to make informed judgments, adapt teaching materials, and employ various learning techniques to meet workplace needs. Following this, the program includes seven learning sessions, delivered by the SVAI and #Itsnotok team, and engagements with the private sector, attended by organizations committed to being part of the inaugural South Africa Respect@Work initiative.

The World Bank’s Gender Strategy for 2024-2030 sets an ambitious goal to propel gender equality, aiming to create a future that is sustainable, resilient, and inclusive. This aligns with the World Bank Evolution Roadmap and addresses the urgent, fundamental, and complex task of achieving gender equality. Despite notable advances, significant gender disparities persist. Gender-based violence remains rampant, and the COVID-19 pandemic has potentially set back progress by curtailing access to education and employment, increasing rates of early marriage and childbearing, and escalating gender-based violence.

In the Africa Region (AFW), the challenges are stark: a woman or girl has a 58% chance of not attending secondary school, a 20% likelihood of beginning childbearing in her teens, and a 46% probability of believing that domestic violence by a husband is justified. Women consistently earn less than their male counterparts, regardless of their occupation. These disparities are even more pronounced for those living in rural, fragile, or conflict-affected areas, or among the poor, disabled, or ethnic minorities. With 70% of the AFW population living in conflict-affected settings and a significant portion of the world’s impoverished, the intersection of these disadvantages with gender disparities demands urgent attention and action.

Addressing gender equality and gender-based violence (GBV) is not only a social and moral imperative but also an economic need. Roughly one in three women worldwide have experienced either non-partner sexual violence or physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence. A recent World Bank Group report estimates the costs of intimate partner violence across five countries to be between 1.2 percent and 3.7 percent of GDP. GBV can impact business operations through workplace bullying and sexual harassment, employees experiencing domestic and sexual violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse connected to the workplace. These impacts affect employee well-being and can lead to reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and increased costs associated with employee turnover and security.

The South Africa Respect@Work delivered by the SVAI includes a Train the Trainer 5-day course is followed by Private Sector training sessions attended by organizations that have committed to being part of the inaugural South Africa Respect@Work program. If your organization is interested in joining the Respect@Work program and contributing to creating a better life for all, please reach out. It is our collective responsibility to bring about change and help create a better life for all.

Written by Tiekie Barnard, CEO and Founder of Shared Value Africa Initiative and Shift Impact Africa