Putting economic emancipation of women to the test

Port Elizabeth-born TV personality and entrepreneur Olwethu Leshabane is challenging the gender gap in corporate SA
DECISIVE ACTION: Port Elizabeth-born TV personality and entrepreneur Olwethu Leshabane is challenging the gender gap in corporate SA

Port Elizabeth-born TV personality and entrepreneur Olwethu Leshabane has launched her women’s month campaign, Womenomics, and through it has challenged corporate SA to make a viable efforts to accelerate women’s participation in the economy.

Leshabane says if SA is serious about women empowerment, companies need to take decisive action towards giving women access to positions of power and closing the gender pay gap.

“We are a few days away from another Women’s [Day], from more flowers and chocolates, more [online] seminars, more talks on transformation, more promises of change, yet statistics show the gender gap in corporate SA is very large,” Leshabane said.

With the Womenomics platform, to be launched on August 9, Leshabane has challenged companies to take an online test that determines a company’s level of inclusivity towards women.

After the test, company bosses are challenged to publish their scorecards and practical plans to improve.

The Womenomics is a spin-off of Leshabane’s Womenomics segment of her Podcast, The Sit Down with Olwethu Leshabane.

The segment entails having various conversations with thought leaders and experts in various industries to inspire, motivate and equip women with tools to manage and improve their financial and economic conditions.

Leshabane has partnered with businesswomen Sihle Bolani, Amanda Dambuza and Ipeleng Mkhari who form an advisory panel of a continuous project that will work alongside corporates to improve their Womenomics scoring to create more progressive spaces for women in the corporate sector.

Bolani said: “It’s not empowerment that women need.

“We have always had power.

“What we need is for organisations and society to stop the erasure of women’s experiences and to put an end to the disablement of women’s progress, ability to successfully and safely pursue their dreams and create wealth on their terms.” 

This women’s month, Leshabane has challenged companies to:

• Review and take stock of the policies relating to employment, upskilling and supplier/funding opportunities of women;

• Take accountability of the shortcomings, internal biases, policy biases and the systemic oppression that has allowed for women to be overlooked for so long. Thoroughly interrogate these and take real and tangible steps to address them. Publish findings within the organisation and to the public and communicate a way forward; and 

• Take action — define and publish a sustainable plan for how “Womenomics” will be grown to a desirable level over a realistic timeline. Stay accountable and be transparent throughout the process and journey.

“The only thing that sets women apart from men is opportunity.”

Mkhari said: “We should not take lightly the endless struggles waged by women to just be.”

Dambuza said: “Economic empowerment of women is without a doubt the biggest step towards resolving some of society’s ills.

“There can be no prosperity without the economic emancipation of women.” 

The Womenomics test will be launched on www.thewomenomics.com on August 9.

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