W-Suite Empowers Women to Take a Seat at the Top Tables
The world is moving towards legal gender equality — but it’s moving very, very slowly.
Although women have made some strides and achieved some top positions in leadership across Africa with the continent having had several Prime Ministers and elected women presidents the long walk to gender equality is going slowly. Only six countries, all outside Africa, currently give women and men equal rights, according the World Bank’s ‘Women, Business and the Law 2019’ report which was recently released.
That’s an increase — from zero — compared to a decade ago, when the organization started measuring countries by how effectively they guarantee legal and economic equality between the genders. But the rate of progress means that, by the international broadcaster CNN’s calculations, women won’t achieve full equality in the areas studied by the World Bank until 2073.
Rooted in a meaningful drive and participation of women development, W-Suite is founded, in South Africa. W-Suite is a platform for advocacy and action aimed at bringing woman into key leadership and operational roles, particularly in the C-Suite across organizations, markets and governments, with an explicit goal of increasing the number of Female CEOs of firms listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) by 10% before 2025.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, W-Suite has announced that the inaugural W-Suite Summit is set to take place on 31 July 2019. This must-do calendar event will take place at the Maslow Hotel located in Sandton, Johannesburg and will boast leading female speakers across industries in Africa and beyond. The media launch will be held on 20 March.
In a time where women’s voices are rising, a rich vision of accelerating inclusion, participation and the influence of women in positions of power and to co-create a new culture of leadership that is inclusive and drives meaningful participation of women in the development of thriving communities, strong economies and great nations. It’s time women took a seat at the table.
W-Suite Summit is the brainchild of Katie Mohammed, a dynamic charismatic television broadcaster, businesswoman, TV personality and the CEO and shareholder of Brandfusion; an integrated business hub founded on the core principles of ‘collaborative intelligence’.
She reflects, “I attended a Presidential Investment Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, and felt like I was at the Oscars of leadership. The number of men in leadership far exceeded a small minority of women in attendance: change needed to be affected, and that is where I saw the opportunity to start the W-Suite movement.”
W-Suite reflects on the unprecedented possibilities for women, with its launch coinciding with International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on 8 March, which spotlights the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally- a powerful counter-narrative to gender inequality; and with relevant support and exposure, will women continue to transform into senior leadership roles.
Globally, woman have made great strides towards gender equality- moving towards making a difference in the workplace. Belgium, Denmark, France, Latina, Luxembourg and Sweden are the six countries that have given women and men equal rights.
In Africa, women continue to make significant strides too. Liberian politician Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. She was the first elected female head of state in Africa and shared the 2011 Noble Peace Prize with fellow Liberian woman Leymah Gbowee. Other African women who have won Noble Prizes include Kenya’s Professor Wangari Mathai (Peace Prize, 2004) and South Africa’s Nadine Gordimer (Prize in Literature,1991) and have served as President include Joyce Banda, who was Malawi’s first female president and only the second woman to lead a country in Africa. While Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim GCSK, a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist served as the 6th President of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018. African parliaments have seen the number of women parliamentarians increase. Rwanda with 61.3% has the highest proportion of women in parliament in the world. Other African countries with high percentages of women in parliament include Namibia (46.2%), South Africa (42.7%), Senegal (41.8%), Mozambique (39.6%) and Ethiopia (38.8%).
On local soil do we celebrate Priscillah Mabelane, BP Southern Africa (BPSA) first black female, in the role of CEO with Mpumi Madisa who made headlines being appointed the next CEO of the trading, distribution and services group for Bidvest, which has a market capitalisation of R72bn.
“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” Malala Yousafzai.
Gender equality if a critical component of economic growth, women are half the world’s population and have a role to play in creating a more prosperous world. With the purpose to make room for women at the table, W-Suite aims to break the cycle of underrepresentation and accelerate gender equality, the exchange of best practices, knowledge and expertise, establish mentorship and sponsorship programmes that can identify women of potential and become feeder programmes into boards, and, lastly, promote entrepreneurship and participation of women owned SME’s.
Partner to W-Suite comments “For me W suite is a platform that reminds women to have the power to act. And if we know this reality we become aware and believe that we uplifters to each other” Ms Sithembile Ntombela, Acting CMO Brand South Africa
The W-Suite platform for advocacy will be held this July, in the wake of South African Women’s Month and will announce the launch of a call to the Fortune 500 and top listed companies in major stock exchanges around the world for gender equity in senior female management and board memberships in 2025.
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