In Honour of all the social, political, cultural and economic achievements of women across the globe throughout history we dedicate this day to celebrate women of all different cultures and backgrounds. The day was collectively founded by women to bring attention to women’s rights and gender parity.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 with Russia as the country to set the celebration date of 8 March, however in South Africa on the 9th August 1956 an estimated 20,000 women of all races marched to the Pretoria Union building’s gardens and amphitheatre to fight against past laws regarding child care provisions, housing, education, equal pay, and equal rights with men in regard to property, marriage and guardianship of children and for gender equality. Before the past four decades the women’s role in the history of South Africa was belated and not given recognition. Women like Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn have paved the way for South African women to use their voices.
“I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. I think we are the most powerful beings on the earth, and that we should be given every opportunity. That is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.” _ Zozibini Tunzi (Miss universe)
Gender parity laws still to this day affect both developed and developing economies. Almost 3 billion women globally are legally restricted from choosing their careers. Out of 189 economies, 104 economies still have laws preventing women from working in a specific job, 59 economies have no sexual harassment laws in place and in 18 economies husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. In the Business space gender parity still can be compared to men through women’s work hours, education and income to list just a few. However, the sociological meteric conducted by researchers confirms that society is progressing towards gender equality.
Despite great strides, female entrepreneurs continue to face roadblocks. Regardless of gender, any entrepreneur will tell you that successful entrepreneurship is a challenging task requiring deep commitment and unlimited amounts of motivation.
Even in 2020 it is clear that many South African women specifically in areas of entrepreneurship and in small businesses struggle to reach Global Entrepreneurship statistics. One of the key challenges is that steps to empower women economically are happening slowly – and not systematically. The impact of this is unintended discrimination as we are undercounting women, instead we should be much more cognisant of the role they play in our economic vitality and growth.
Research conducted by the World Bank, Africa boasts the highest growth rate of female-run businesses in the world. While more than half of South Africa’s population is female, only 38% of SME’s are women owned and led. Our bordering countries Angola and Madagascar have reached a roughly equal entrepreneurship rate, it is important to be encouraged and that more women take the leap and start their own businesses. South African women, across racial lines, have been the source of courage for the entire community.
Societies with greater gender equality not only offer better socioeconomic opportunities for women, but also tend to grow faster and more equitably. There are gains in poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, consumer choice, innovation and decision-making on a wider set of issues.
The ability to chart one’s own economic destiny by becoming an entrepreneur is one of the hallmarks of capitalism. If we want to see the global economy prosper, we must enact the structural reforms that will empower women and SME’s.
Thankfully, for the benefit of innovation, business, and society in recent years we have seen an increase in rates of women entrepreneurship. The economic impact of increased female entrepreneurial participation is significant and holds the potential to continue to be a major driver of economic growth.
Once you become fearless, life becomes limitless.