Standard Bank has firmed up South Africa's commitment to UN Women's #HeForShe movement. Here's why it's so impactful, especially in Africa, and how you can go beyond clicktivism and get involved, too.
UN Women’s #HeForShe solidarity movement, mostly known for global goodwill ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson’s strong speech at the campaign’s launch on 20 September 2014 and at numerous events and iterations since then.
The launch was one of the year’s most ‘catalytic moments on Twitter, and last week saw the #HeForShe Impact Summit, with the likes of Queen Rania of Jordan, fellow global goodwill ambassador Anne Hathaway and activist actor Winston Duke calling for action in achieving gender equality.
Welcoming the solutions, Anne Hathaway said:
Today, the men on stage with me are here because they are throwing a huge rock through the glass ceiling.
It's on all of us to make that change – male and female, public and private sector. But it's a mammoth task to undertake if you don't know where to begin. To help with this, HeForShe unveiled three specific solutions to achieve gender equality around the world:
The HeForShe Proven Solutions Report, on how to achieve parity in global leadership – based on the roadmap set out by PwC Network, which moved from 18% female global leadership representation to 47% in 15 months.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that SA’s own former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is now the visionary leader of UN Women, the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
SA's involvement and broader continental impact
A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
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Now, SA has a stronger voice on the platform, with IOL confirming Standard Bank group chief executive Sim Tshabalala as a thematic champion for gender equality.
Tshabalala joins the likes of Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada and Dr Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, as fellow thematic champions, dedicated supporters of gender equality and women’s empowerment, serving as public champions for change.
More than just ambassadors, they’re putting action first and foremost in implementing game-changing policies and concrete actions towards gender parity.
Achieving gender equity is a moral duty, a business imperative and just plain common sense. Women embody half the world’s talent, skill and energy – and more than half of its purchasing power. So every sensible business leader must be committed to achieving gender equity in their company and to contributing to gender equity in the societies in which we operate.
The good news? Progress is being made, slowly but surely. While Standard Bank confirms that Namibia and South Africa both score in the Top 20 in the WEF global report on gender equality, after closing 78% to 76% of their gender gaps, but sub-Saharan Africa still displays a wider range of gender gap outcomes than practically any other region.
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Looking at how other countries fare, in the first week, at least one man in every single country of the world had made the #HeForShe commitment. Names aside, it’s not binary and anyone can add their voice.
Don't just click or like, commit to making a change!
A quick look at the HeForShe site at time of writing showed there are currently 1,946,656 members and 1,303,985,779 actions and counting – my commitment makes me lucky number 1,946,656 – with Rwanda leading the commitment leader pack by country when I clicked through.
Instead, joining gives you access to hands-on ideas about what you can do for the equality issues that matter to you, whether that’s by supporting victims of online trolling in the realm of education, breaking taboo on topics of sexual health, calling out offensive advertising stereotypies under identity, confronting biased speech at work, asking potential victims of violence if they need help or speaking out for diverse representation in politics as well as inspiration in seeing what other HeForShe advocates are doing across the globe.
There’s a commitment to telling your own story, as well as calling out and breaking down social norms and barriers to well-being, so that we may all be free to be our true selves.
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I think what's lacking in Standard Bank's commitment is to correct their gender paygap. It'll be good for them to provide information about their men vs women salaries and what the pay gap is, and what they are going to do about it. Having more women representation is great, but not paying women the same salary for similar positions is still a big issue that hasn't been discussed in their commitments.