Post Newspaper Article
Date: 3 July 2017
WHERE IS A WOMEN’S PLACE?
There is huge merit in empowering women in male dominated fields where women are still being overlooked. Of interest is how we base our approach e.g. if we go the Harvard route, the difference between developed and developing countries is conspicuous, however gender equality is not seen as a women’s issue but rather a political, economic and social opportunity. Hence, I reiterate why I consistently encourage women to enter politics and business because of the unique role play, gives women the competitive edge against their male counterparts.
The position then of South African women must be seen socio-politically. In particular Indian women need to take a stand on persevering in previously male dominated careers. Our forefathers and mothers came as indentured labourers in 1860 and 157 years on, South African Indian women, through sheer resilience have succeeded in various fields by adapting and evolving to worldly and local changes. The South African transition post 1994 brought the integration of different business cultures which have transformed local experiences but is increasingly challenging for many professionals to operate in.
Our education system has changed but we are still stuck in the old mode of teaching competencies and our work systems are not geared towards training on people’s cultures or gender strengths.
For women, there is a greater gap between their technical skills learnt at our tertiary institutions and their social skills required by employers and clients, than their male counterparts, probably reasons for the stark gender imbalance that has persisted.
As a way forward is that, businesses and political parties must recruit and train women with such skills. Parents only teach within the context of their ethnic culture but he scope of rearing girl children and grooming them into assertive youth with a strong identity and confidence to adapt to the diversity we face in the workplace must be greatly invested in. Furthermore, for Indian people in general to be capable, economic discriminatory legislations, such as, Affirmative Action must be scrapped. What we need is empowering legislation to contribute effectively to our country of birth.
I firmly believe that, the one free right, is the right to vote. This actually empowers women and needs lot more perseverance because in the last 23 years of our hard won democracy, very few Indian women have become legislators. Today, including me, two out of 3 women are in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and 1 in the National Assembly. Yet there are 9 legislatures, countrywide.
However, the skills needed for Indian women to enter politics means shedding the cultural barriers of careers which are deemed a risk to women by family. To achieve this, Indian female candidates need specialised training and mentoring by political parties and democracy development NGOs.
Therefore in the 21st century, South African Indian women and political participation presents challenges. This requires empowerment in terms of partnerships between women and men as parliamentarians, as well as, the business and NGO sector with a focus to train women to exercise their political rights, to run an election campaign with funds and to deal with the media.
I emphasise these basic fundamental tools to shape and empower Indian women, together with the skills necessary to be developed because my view is simple, “If economics is the queen of the social sciences then politics must be king.”
Minority Front Leader
3 July 2017