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Gender equality begins at home

Mjo Odwa
August28/ 2017

The Wits Business School Alumni Association hosted a panel discussion about women in leadership, looking at the affects of gender inequality in the workplace.

From Left: Jabu Baloyi, Dr Nokwethemba Mtshali, Dr Judy Dlamini, Thabo Mokwele and Chimene Chetty.

 

Society needs to work with women to address the issues of gender inequality in the household, at work and in society. This was one of the salient points from Jabu Baloyi, spokesperson for the Commission on Gender Equality SA speaking at the Wits Business School Alumni Association discussion titled “Women in Leadership. Baloyi and a panel including businesswoman  Judy Dlamini,  Nokwethemba Mtshali – South Africa’s youngest hospital CEO who runs the Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston, as well as media personality Thabo “Tbose” Mokwele engaged audiences on the challenges faced by women in the workplace and in society on Monday, August 21.

Baloyi said the government has “…so many policies and so many rhetoric’s,” when it comes to addressing gender inequality. “Our laws are not effective enough,” he said.

“Women work three times the workload of their male counterparts –as a mother and being employed, tackling the gender stereotypes,” Baloyi added.

Nokwethemba Mtshali spoke about some of the challenges she faces as a women in a leadership position. “I’ve had to endure hardships in my journey” she said. Mtshali also added that in the medical field there are often stereotypes about women not wanting to specialize because they want to raise their children. She also added that the workplace needs to be more accommodating for women, “We need to breastfeed for six months but maternity leave is only four months. We promote exclusive breastfeeding but we don’t have the facilities to support women to breastfeed for six months,” she said.

Judy Dlamini said addressing gender inequality needs to start at the household level, “There is a perception that your legacy depends on the boy.”
Girls are subtly made to feel inferior to boys,”she said. Dlamini added that men need to be advocates of gender equality, “We cannot do it alone. The boys club cannot continue.” She said.

There was a general agreement on the panel about the need for members of society to work to together to fight gender inequality instead of just women. Mokwele said, “One thing society needs is a social detox. There is a lot of unlearning that we need to do.”

The female dominated audience shared their individual experiences about the bureaucratic challenges they have faced as women in the workplace and in academia. MBA candidate at the Wits Business School and electrical engineer, Vami Ndzinisa said, “People have different experiences, you’ll find that you can learn from the two ladies (Dlamini and Mtshali). It’s really the same experience in different fields having to fight for a position as a woman. I’m not the only one going through this hardship.”

 

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Mjo Odwa