By Francis Marimbe
Achieving sustainable development goals of promoting gender equality in all facets of life, decent work for men and women, and reducing inequality is a challenge that has mainly affected women across the globe. Many policies and programmes have been implemented to empower women, strengthen their societal position, and contribute to economic development. In South Africa, the post-apartheid period overlooked gender issues in the mammoth task of eradicating racism and sexist laws.
However, the government of South Africa has rigorously embarked on gender programmes, the development of comprehensive machinery, and critical programmes concerning women empowerment, reducing poverty, and ending violence against women. There is no doubt that there has been a steady increase in women’s representation, especially in governance positions and decision-making processes at the national level. Such representation is not the same at the provincial and local levels.
Statistics show that women occupy only a few government managerial positions. Statistics South Africa (2018) demonstrates that women accounted for 43.8% of total employment in the second quarter of 2018, with only 32% of women managers. A report published by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in 2020 showed that most women occupy lower managerial positions, and their earnings are less than men. The labour market tends to favour men more than women in paid employment, regardless of race.
The Commission for Employment Equity Annual Report for 2021/2022 shows that over three years on equitable representation, 55.3% counts for men and 44.7% for women, with a gap of 7.8% between African men and women. Male representation in top management is around 75% and 25% for women, while at the semi-skilled level, the difference is approximately 10%. Such statistics show that black women are under-represented in the public and corporate sectors.
Most of them are employed in elementary and domestic work occupations, and men dominate the rest. While these challenges exist, it is pertinent to note that the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act and the Codes of Good Practice have made a perceptible contribution to women’s empowerment.
Within the five elements of the B-BBEE (ownership, management control, skills development, enterprise and supplier development, and socio-economic development), the inclusion of women is highlighted in four elements except in the socio-economic development scorecard. This clearly shows the government’s commitment to the involvement of women in transformation and development. Under the ownership scorecard, 5 points out of 25 are allocated to black women, and 5 out of 19 under the management control scorecard. A qualified small enterprise (QSE) general scorecard shows that out of the available 25 points, there are 7 points allocated to black women.
On a skills development generic scorecard, the economically active population (EAP) racial demographics are used where the female percentage is considered. Lastly, under preferential procurement using the amended construction scorecard, there are 3/4 points for spend on empowering suppliers with at least 35% black female ownership. In addition, there is a bonus point on spend on empowering suppliers with at least 51% black female ownership and 2 out of 15 points under supplier development specific to the annual value of all qualifying supplier development contributions to 51% black women-owned entities, depending on the scorecard used.
The Amended Generic B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice has a weighting of 111 points in addition to bonus points on skills development (5 points) and enterprise and supplier development (4 points), amounting to a total of 120 points. At least 20% of the total points are dedicated to women’s empowerment and inclusion. Based on the statistics and BEE points allocated to women, I believe the allotted points towards black women are insufficient in addressing women’s empowerment and their contribution to economic development unless strict measures are implemented.
Therefore, sustainably addressing women’s empowerment through B-BBEE would require a compulsory 100% compliance on all points allocated to women on management control, skills development, and preferential procurement scorecards. Failure to meet the possible mandatory 100% compliance should lead to discounting a BEE level instead of emphasising the compulsory ownership element.
Such an element mainly benefits a few wealthy people who can afford to enter into ownership deals in an environment threatened by fronting practices. A move to compulsory 100% compliance could significantly contribute to women’s empowerment and inclusion in managerial positions, thereby reducing the gap between men and women.
* Francis Marimbe is a B-BBEE specialist at Drisa Consulting Services.
** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL.