The concept of bringing gender issues into the mainstream of society and in the workplace was established as a global strategy for promoting gender equality in the Platform for Action adopted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995. It highlighted the necessity to ensure that gender equality is a primary goal in all areas of social development. Since then, many industries have worked tirelessly to promote gender equality among many sectors to afford women and girls access to leadership roles. Leadership positions were predominantly meant only for men and boys. Lastly gender mainstreaming advocates for equality and fair treatment amongst all sexes. In this article, we will look at how gender mainstreaming is beneficial to different societies, the challenges that need to be dealt with, and how private and public sectors can provide the right tools to ensure gender equality continues to become the norm.
Why Do We Even Need Gender Mainstreaming?
The lack of gender equality in different companies and industries has proven to slow down production due to unskilled people being employed as opposed to qualified women being let into those industries. For instance, look at the construction industry, which has opened its doors to women for years now. In fact, in 2020, infrastructure publication ‘Infrastructure News’ reported that 48% of South Africa’s construction companies are owned by women. A significant percentage showcases that not only can women survive in the construction industry, but they can thrive too. The transport industry has also been inclusive of women and trying their best to execute gender mainstreaming ideas across the board. In fact, through its focused initiatives, SA Taxi (finance entrepreneurs who operate to give taxi industries the right financial assistance to thrive) has invested R3.5 billion into empowering female entrepreneurs in the minibus taxi industry since 2008. During this period, SA Taxi has increased its female client base by an average of 4.5% per annum, helping to create 8,473 female-owned SMEs and financing 12,092 vehicles – an average of 1.4 vehicles per owner.
Farming, architecture, technology, medical, and so many other industries are also giving women a voice and access to leadership. Even government sectors – that have been at it since the beginning of time – are also affording women leadership roles and opportunities. In Africa, having women leaders is possible if we beat the challenges faced by women and girls. In essence, gender mainstreaming is also important in offering women and girls a better life and future.
What Problems Does Gender Mainstreaming Solve?
Besides curbing the uncomfortable inequality barrier that exists in some African countries, gender mainstreaming helps strengthen economies. This is because when women are offered positions and access to entrepreneurial opportunities, their area’s socio-economic status stands a much better chance at improving, and that improves the economy of the country they are in. Since the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been evident that small and medium businesses have been holding the economies of impoverished areas on their back. A lot of African homes are women-led, and this meant that they were most likely the ones to start businesses to sustain their livelihoods since the pandemic hit. Women-led organisations, countries and governments have also been highlighted throughout the first phases of the pandemic as areas that are responding to it well.
Gender mainstreaming is a phenomenon that inspires more and more women and girls to not only reach for their dreams and goals but also dream and create a better world for themselves and those around them.
We’ve established a gender mainstreaming programme, with the aim to source finance of large scale and small-scale infrastructure, for women-owned or women-led organisations. Our focus areas for this programme include energy, information communication and technology, transport as well as water and sanitation. We build according to the following four key pillars, which have the primary purpose of streamlining the processes to ensure the quality and success of the programme.
- Promoting investments in women-owned projects.
- Adapting strategies, policies, and procedures to facilitate gender mainstreaming across our wide portfolio.
- Providing capacity building and knowledge sharing.
- Building partnerships with public and private partners who share our vision for gender equality.
Other development finance institutions in different industries, as well as the government, are also investing in gender mainstreaming initiatives to ensure many women and girls gain access to a better future.
All of us need to strive towards a gender-equal society and world as it has been evident that both women and men are needed to change the world. If we open up more opportunities through empowerment programmes for young women and girls from underdeveloped areas, we stand a better chance at improving these areas, as well as creating a whole new world and economy that will ensure jobs, lives and more are sustained. It starts small, an investment here, a project there. But, together, we can all give the future its bright spark.