– by Noluthando Makhaza
Women around the world have played important roles in our communities since the beginning of time. The innate tendency that some women have for nurturing and taking care of their own render them loyal citizens of their various communities. As a result, women readily contribute towards the development of their communities, and in some instances are willing to go the extra mile in order to sustain the societies they belong to. The skills that women acquire from being good homemakers are the very same skills that they adopt in businesses which in return can make them exceptional business leaders. In recognition of the vital role of women, UEL recently hosted a women’s workshop for the Department of Arts and Culture in Pietermaritzburg, with the theme: Creating congruence between personal and professional life.
The 2-hour workshop was facilitated by one of the most influential women leaders in KZN, Ms Vani Moodley. Vani is a founder member, Deputy Chairman and serves on the board of a Cooperative Financial Institution for women called Women Building our Africa (WBoA). She is an accredited CEFE International trainer of entrepreneurs and trainers and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Public and Development Management at the University of Witwatersrand. Additionally, Vani has travelled and worked in 26 different countries and three islands in the world and has provided services to various international brands.
Vani’s address to the delegates provided context and thoughts based on local and global research findings on how women need to prepare for and maintain leadership positions while keeping a balance between their professional and personal lives. She stated the importance of understanding this aspect as it is imperative for facilitating the environment, placing women leadership on the agenda and most of all providing an accessible platform for women to equip themselves with the required academic skills that will draw attention to real competence and address the age old cliché – “Where are the women with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience?” we hear all too often from senior executives in corporate, government and business.
As challenging as it might be to keep the balance between personal and professional roles for women leaders, Vani shared key points that women need to adopt in order to facilitate this change. These included the power to negotiate both at work and at home, providing appropriate schooling facilities at the workplace, creating access to more mentorship programmes for women leaders, encouraging women in current leadership positions to mentor other women, and establishing consortia for women to access larger business deals.
Some countries are making headway with regards to supporting women in the workplace. According to the World Economic Forum, the global trend in supporting women in the workplace is with respect to an increase in legislation to support women appointments on Boards. Japan has been the latest country to legislate a minimum number of women in board positions as they have seen the economic benefit of women participation. This follows countries such as Norway, France, Italy and Belgium.
Let us join forces to lead South Africa in the same direction. Let us also move beyond policies to changing mind sets in expanding the leadership and economic landscape for women NOW!