Women all over the world today are being celebrated for the various roles they play from their homes, their careers, in churches and all facets of life (social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women). It is also a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights and violence and against women.
International Women Day (IWD) is a day for recognising the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all.
This year’s theme: ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ is no coincidence but carefully chosen to address several issues of disparity between women and their male counterparts. It is also a call to action for accelerating women’s equality to men, hence #BreakTheBias.
Imagine a gender equal world: A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality to men. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
So, the question is are women themselves ready to ensure the bias against them is broken? How do we ensure gender equality?
During a courtesy call by the Managing Director of Absa Bank, Abena Osei-Poku to the Business and Financial Times last month, both organisations discussed ways to ensure equality and equity at their respective workplaces and support women to climb the professional ladder, paying critical attention to the gender disparity at their various offices in order to break the glass-ceiling.
“This is something we are very passionate about; we are actively working to equip women. The least we can do is to help women at the organisations; if nothing else, when there are vacancies let’s encourage them to apply. At Absa Bank we encourage that, and there is still more to be done,” Ms. Osei-Poku said.
CIB Prez calls for women participation in financial leadership
In a gender-diversity study, undertaken by TheBoardroom Africa and the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), revealed that women make up only 23 percent of all non-executive directors of boards of publicly listed companies. Additionally, women account for 6 percent and 8 percent of Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers respectively on listed boards which is woefully on the low.
There is a growing body of literature on the wider economic benefits of increased gender diversity, with one published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimating that on average, across the OECD, a 50 percent reduction of the gender gap in labour force participation would lead to an additional gain in GDP of about 6 percent by 2030.
Therefore, in a bid to help bridge this gap, President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), Patricia Sappor, called for an increase in measures aimed at driving gender diversity at all levels of the financial services sector, saying this will lead to more robust decision-making.
Speaking at the Annual Bankers Week Dinner organised by the Institute, Madam Sappor – who is the first woman to hold the position – suggested that more balanced-gender institutions are critical for overall development of the economy.
Urging more women to take up leadership positions, she said: “It is my desire to see many women participate in leadership discussions and take up roles at the senior management level in our various institutions. I encourage my fellow women to be bold and aspire for these positions to champion this agenda to fruition.”
Following the continued awareness campaign and ensuing impact of the Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, Ms Sappor asked for a similar awareness-creation campaign for the External Dispute Resolution Office at the Bank of Ghana – arguing that it will further engender confidence in the sector.
Turning our attention to digitisation, Women’s Haven Africa – a female tech and innovation hub based in Kumasi – has implored young women to explore the opportunities presented by digitisation to provide solutions for social and business challenges.
Executive Director of Women’s Haven Africa, Adwoa Fosua Owusu Ofori, observed that women have a lot of potentials which when unearthed could help accelerate development.
Against this backdrop, she recognises that women possess solutions to the challenges faced within local communities and beyond. However, she cautioned that: “Once you have a vision and you are aiming toward it, you are bound to face some challenges; particularly if you are a woman.”
She therefore observed that maintaining your confidence and a strong belief in the idea, and creating the right network of people, is critical to attaining success.
An International Consultant at Black Bridge Consulting Limited, Maame Awinador-Kanyirige has urged young women to form the right perceptions about themselves in order to build their confidence. She said the way people think about the world and themselves is what shapes their confidence. She, therefore, urged young women to think about themselves as being capable to achieve any task at any given time.
“Confidence is a key success factor for women in the world of work and business. Sometimes how we think about the world and our thoughts about ourselves shape who we are. It sounds simplistic and that is how people miss it because the greatest things in life are the small and simple things. Perception and how you see yourself is so important. You need to believe that you are unique and have what it takes to be able to make it wherever you find yourself,” she stated.
Ms Awinador also noted that forming the right perception helps in learning and discovering new things.
“When you begin to think about yourself in a positive way, even when you walk into the room or you are in a space and you don’t know something, you will not be ashamed of not knowing, rather, it will be an opportunity for you to discover. You cannot know everything, and discovery starts from not knowing so not knowing is great. The problem starts when you think you know. When we form the wrong perception, our reaction becomes wrong and so if you are doing business or going into any field of work, you need to see yourself as having everything it takes to succeed,” she explained.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, there are going to be new things that will confront you but you have to talk yourself into believing that you are good enough,” she added.
Taking up all of these great hints from the women mentioned above, women will be able to #BreakTheBias and create an inclusive society.
Kudos to Dr. Edith Dankwa, Board Chair, Business & Financial Times and all other women in Ghana and across the world who have been able to #BreakTheBias to hold executive positions in their field of work and environment. I say, Ayekoo and more grease to your elbows.