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It is of critical importance for SA workplaces to embrace gender mainstreaming as a key human resource development and organisational transformation strategy.
This is needed to accelerate the appointment, development and advancement of women within a holistic and integrated empowerment context.
Progress in this area has been disappointing in SA companies, and we need strategic attention by policymakers and leadership teams.
“Gender” applies to the socially- and culturally-ordained roles, rights, duties, resources and interests of both men and women.
“Mainstreaming” refers to the specific actions in an organisation which lead to certain outcomes, expectations, behaviour and interaction.
The emergence of the concept of gender mainstreaming can be traced to the early 1970s and it has evolved since then.
Gender mainstreaming received global attention at the UN Conference on women held in Beijing in 1995.
There are numerous definitions of gender mainstreaming in business literature.
They primarily focus on the development, repositioning, review and implementation of policies and processes in any organisational setting that actively promote and advance gender equality and equity at all levels.
There needs to be close synergy between gender-related issues and other key organisational and human resource (HR) policies.
Gender-friendly actions and perspectives need to enter mainstream HR practices and organisational policies and become embedded in day-to-day organisational life.
One of the main challenges we face in practically applying the concept of gender mainstreaming in our workplaces is to harness the diverse roles that both men and women play in teams, in decision-making and in collectively achieving business goals.
It is also advantageous to align the gender mainstreaming intentions to the core values of an organisation, so that they influence the behaviour and actions of employees.
Gender mainstreaming is guided primarily by the following:
l The constitution (1996).
l The White Paper on Affirmative Action (1998).
l The Employment Equity Act (1998).
l SA’s National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (2005-2015).
The National Gender Policy Framework seeks to provide a framework for compliance with SA’s international treaty obligations on women’s rights and gender equality as well as the constitution, relevant labour laws and government policies.
In celebration of the tremendous achievements of women and a reaffirmation of the pivotal role of women in spearheading change in the rapidly-transforming workplace, The Renaissance Network, in association with Peggy Pillay and Dr Layla Cassim, will be hosting a Women’s Leadership Programme next month.
The theme of the event is, “Women leading transformation in the new-age workplace: at a personal, team and an organisational level”. The seminar will be led by women leaders with immense expertise and experience in their field of specialisation.
The seminar and several specialist workshops will be held from June 21 to 29 at the Joburg Theatre.
This unique forum is for business, organised labour, government, academic institutions and professional bodies to share insights, best practices and innovative approaches to promote gender equity in the work environment.
l For a full programme and bookings, contact The Renaissance Network on 083 786 8605, fax 011 868 2662 or e-mail renaissance@telkomsa. net