JOHANNESBURG - The association of Black Securities an Investment Professionals (ABSIP) on Friday added its voice for business to support women in a period that South Africa has seen a spike of gender-based violence.
ABSIP paid tribute to the victims following the death of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana and Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels last month which sparked national outrage and saw civil society calling on business for help.
ABSIP president Sibongiseni Mbatha said organised business must undertake an introspection on the role of women in South Africa.
"ABSIP must take the lead for South African leaders to recognise the role that women play in society and their significant contribution to economic growth. For us men, the challenge is to accept women's worth as economic contributors in addition to their multiple roles,” said Mbatha, who observed a moment of silence for victims of gender-based violence.
Mrwetyana, a student of the University of Cape Town, was allegedly raped and murdered at a local post office while women boxing champion Jegels died at the hands of her policeman boyfriend.
This month women’s rights activists led a #SandtonShutdown and handed over a memorandum to the JSE that asked that corporate work environments characterised by sexual harassment, be changed: Mbatha quoted former president Nelson Mandela's speech in 1998 at a symposium for World Women's Day. "He said we must now seize the opportunities that are made available to you...to familiarise yourself with new technology, to play your rightful role in the economy and government, in short to assert your rights you now have as women, which you were denied before..."
This week President Cyril Ramaphosa, at an emergency sitting of Parliament, said urgent action was needed to tackle gender-based violence in the country.
Ramaphosa said some 2700 women and 1000 children were murdered by men last year, and at least 100 rapes were reported daily.
Addressing a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces Ramaphosa announced an emergency plan to deal with the violence against women and children in the country by strengthening the criminal justice system, improving the economic power of women, enhancing the legal and policy framework and prevention measures like media campaigns.
Mbatha said, “Gender equality and sustainable development go hand in hand and empowered women play a critical role towards growth and poverty reduction."
He said there was no reason for women not to climb the corporate ladder.
Mabatho Seeiso, an Independent Independent Professional Trustee, said,"The women in this industry are amazing, but many suffer from the concept that they are not enough.
They suffer from an imposter psyche a lot of the time it is from the challenges we face in the industry. The world belongs to those who are confident."