MEC Phosa commends women in finance positions

30 August 2011

An increasing numbers of women who hold senior finance positions is an indication of confidence in the ability of women to lead a charge towards economic prosperity, says MEC of Finance, Pinky Phosa.

Speaking at the event to celebrate the contribution of women – employees of ABSA Bank in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, MEC Pinky Phosa said the progression of women to positions of seniority is promising albeit neither fast enough nor adequate to speed up the attainment of 50/50 gender parity.

“While we note the great achievements that have been recorded through the efforts of our struggle stalwarts of ’1956, the majority of women are still to benefit from and be accepted as the equal partners on the economic front.

“It is for this reason that the government chose to dedicate this month to highlight the struggle for women in the economic life.

“We agreed that this month must therefore focus on opportunities to enhance women empowerment in the country, said MEC Phosa.

She said the political reform in the country is one of the most encouraging stories of women development that surpasses their standing in the socio-economic levels. This point, according to Phosa, is illustrated by an increase in percentage of women who are members of the provincial legislature and executive council in the province.

The biannual review report which was released by the Commission for Employment Equity earlier this month, painted a very grim picture of employment trends in the country. The report indicates that black people remained under-represented in senior management and in general were making slow progress up the ranks.

While women are climbing the career ladder, and some can be placed at the top 20, 30 50 rankings in terms of their annual earnings, this does not in some cases equate to positions and earnings of their male counterparts which are always the highest in the world.

Phosa said even under these circumstances, there are interesting stories of encouragement that can be told, and from which today’s women can get inspiration to strive to improve their living conditions and position in society.

According to the Global Gender Gap report of the World Economic Forum, South Africa has made some strides in changing the gender disparities in corporate South Africa.

The report places South Africa twelfth (12) in the world compared to position 22 before 2008, and remains top in political empowerment in the region.

The provincial government has also stride out to ensure that more women occupy the financial management positions in the departments. Today, women hold 50 percent of all positions of chief financial officers in the provincial departments.

Furthermore, a report commissioned by the Financial Services Charter Council in 2008 indicates that approximately quarter of executive and senior management positions were occupied by women in the financial and banking sector. The report further indicates an increase from 5.0 percent to 7.0 percent on employment of black women executives.

MEC Phosa said the progress that women are making in the financial, accountancy and insurance companies is changing the perceptions and confirming the rightful place of women in the in the society.

Among the women at the top leadership positions in the sector there is Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus and ABSA CEO, Maria Ramos and President of the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants, Helen Thrush.

Meanwhile, MEC Phosa challenged the banking sector to invest more in women-led initiatives in order to give the province a better chance of defeating poverty.

“As the focus month of women draw closer to an end, let’s find ways to open up the opportunities for women to enter the main stream of economy, same way as the generation of 1956 marched to open up the way for women and men to travel freely in the country.

“We must work harder to ensure that the girl child is nurtured to follow careers in this and other economic sector that are critical to building a better and prosperous society, said MEC Phosa.

Phosa added that the most reliable people in terms of honouring their debts are women, yet they continue to struggle to access credit from the financial institution. This, according to MEC Pinky Phosa, is one of the challenges that the sector must overcome in honour of the spirited dedication of the 1956 women.

For more information, contact:

Letshela Jonas on 013 766 4243 / 079 5000 154 or Joseph Mkhonto on (013) 766 4162 / 082 627 1750
Issued by Communications, Department of Finance, Mpumalanga Provincial Government