WINDHOEK, Mar. 9 – As nations open up to recover economic activities, it cannot be business as usual and policy reforms pertaining to trade and investment need to be expedited and should more specifically be refined to include a gender lens rather than being gender neutral, according to Reem El Sherif, RMB Strategy and Business Developmment Manager.
In a statement made on Tuesday coinciding with International Women’s Day, Sherif highlighted that more time needs to be spent on understanding how policies impact the social fabric of economies and the implications they will have on addressing deeply rooted gender norms.
She stated that just around seven and a half years remained in the timeline for the world to achieve the ambitious gender equality targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, and yet the average woman only has three-quarters of the rights that men enjoy.
“These are findings from a recently published World Bank 2022 report which measures the Women, Business and Law index and looks at gender equality from different vantage points including mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets and pensions. This image becomes even more audacious when one takes a closer look at the facts: nearly 2.4 billion of working-age women worldwide do not have access to equal (emphasis on equal) economic opportunities. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular scored 71.5 out of 100 on the index, higher than the MENA region (53 out of 100), but still lower than the EU and Central Asia (84.1 out of 100).”
While she acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had reversed the slow progress made towards achieving gender equality, one way to work toward achieving it was through the application of gender lens within policy reform.
“One way to apply a gender lens within policy reform is to attract multinationals with roots strongly embedded in gender diversity and equality. Policy makers certainly have a role to play in creating a conducive environment that incorporates gendered dimensions, but domestic and international businesses also have a critical role to play.”
She pointed out that the value of attracting multinational companies to a certain economy not only resides in the foreign capital they bring, but also the human and intellectual capital, which reflect in managerial and cultural practices.
“We see workplaces taking on the agenda of gender equality somewhat to heart. Beyond the mere compliance to employment equity targets, companies are introducing women leadership programmes, providing childcare facilities, being more intentional about representation in boardrooms and promotions. RMB’s Athena programme is one such example, which aims to empower women in the workplace and the impact can be seen across RMB’s various country subsidiaries.
Turning toward implementing initiatives, Sherif emphasised that changes required a massive shift in mindsets as they pertain to gender norms.
“A recent survey by Future Forum Pulse showed that underrepresented groups, like women, prefer to work from home and want to continue doing so. This does not come as a surprise, as women have now found a mechanism by which they are able to balance their duties where previously they may have been constrained to participate economically because of personal duties related to child rearing and care work. But more to that, is that they do not have to face the biases in the workplace. Real women empowerment is not achieved by merely ticking off diversity targets in the boardroom. It is achieved when women are heard, respected and recognized for the value they bring to organizations. This then fosters the collaborative culture that many organizations are so eagerly seeking post-pandemic.” – firstname.lastname@example.org