International Women’s Day is a global opportunity to celebrate women and to advocate for greater momentum in getting to gender equality and ending gender discrimination.

This year, we at the Motsepe Foundation chose to organize our efforts around the theme of inclusion, recognizing that the last two years have deepened exclusion and widened the gender gap in important ways. Our efforts included the Ring the Bell for Gender Equality, the 6th Annual Gender Equality Summit, as well as the Race to Equality.

6th Annual Gender Equality Summit on the theme of inclusion

The 6th annual Gender Equality, Wellness and Leadership Summit took place at the Houghton Hotel on Friday, 11 March, under the theme Inclusion: What we need now for women and youth.

Compared to previous summits, it was an intimate affair, with 60 high profile guests attending physically, including Pali Lehohla, former Statistician-General of South Africa, Rose Molokoane, Founder and National Coordinator of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP); and Lindiwe Matlali, Founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks. We were also joined by an online audience who submitted questions and comments virtually. View the gallery from the Summit HERE

Opening remarks by our CEO, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, were followed by a fireside chat between her and FIFA Secretary-General Madam Fatma Samoura, the first women to hold this important position.

A fireside chat

In an inspiring and wide-ranging conversation, Madam Samoura emphasized the power of football to drive inclusion and foster cohesion. Recalling her days as a Humanitarian Coordinator at the United Nations in war-torn countries, she noted that “The only time soldiers would accept to lay down their weapons, it was when it was raining and when football was being played in the streets.”

She emphasised that FIFA has made strides in building a culture of inclusion, by investing and promoting women’s football at both a development and professional level. FIFA has also strategically appointed women into leadership, whose experience is driving transformation from within.

Madam Samoura is adamant that the game can only be successful through enhanced women’s participation within the international governing body. “Football is a universal language. You cannot promote and develop a game as popular as football by leaving 50% of the world population outside the sphere of the game.”

And she called on more girls and women to actively play the game, rather than remaining on the side-lines.

The fireside chat was followed by an expert panel discussion which explored what is now needed to happen to reverse the gendered loss of the last two years and accelerate transformation to full equality and inclusion.

Expert Panel Discussion

Honourable Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation for Rwanda, emphasized the importance of creating a culture of digital skills development. Under her leadership, women farmers in Rwanda have been given access to tech devices which enhance their access to information and product markets. Whilst the cost of using and owning technology remains a barrier, this is compounded by a shortage of digital skills. The Minister noted that “If you have enough money, you can build the infrastructure but there is no amount of money that will build skills overnight. It has to be progressive.”

Further developing the point around training, FNB Chief Economist Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya, emphasised that, “You need to be deliberate about training young girls at the beginning of their

careers, and you need to be deliberate about mentorship. We need to move away from how we approach women and train them. “

Co-Founder and CEO of Futurelect, Lindiwe Mazibuko emphasised the gender pay gap, “The fact that women dominate HR and men dominate finance means that the salaries are higher, not because of the role but because of who is in the role in some cases.”

Mazibuko went on to explain that implementing necessary structural changes, reinforcing these changes through legislation, and shifting social norms depended on leadership, “Power can’t reside in the hands of a small group of demographic individuals. Younger people and particularly women have a role to play in decision-making.”

Dr Emily Church, Senior Director at the Milken Institute, closed the session with a bold message of inclusion centred on the informal economy, which is where many women work: “It’s critical for governments to recognise the informal sector around the world, not only for the employment it’s created but also as a continued employer going forward, so that the informal sector is supported.”

The Economic Inclusion Barometer and a Mentoring Opportunity

An important theme that emerged during the discussion, when remarks were also taken from the floor, was the urgent need to translate rhetoric into reality, and that tools which track progress and enhance transparency around gender gaps and inclusion would be useful. You can watch the comments shared by speakers from the floor and view the gallery HERE

In her closing remarks, Dr Moloi-Motsepe unveiled a new product of the Motsepe Foundation, the Economic Inclusion Barometer, which will use public data and expert opinion to evaluate the state of economic inclusion as well as progress. The first Barometer report will be released in October 2022.

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