“Achieving gender equity in positions of decision-making both in government and in the private sector is crucial to providing women with responsibilities for planning, making decisions, recommending policies, and coordinating empowerment efforts. Research shows that this allocation of power and responsibility has been useful in initiating adjustments to laws and national plans to include gender equity.”
(Al Maaitah et al., 201127)
Economically-active black women are under-represented in leadership positions in South Africa. The lack of explicit affirmative action targets related to black women has led to what Busi Mavuso, the Managing Director of the Black Management Forum, considers a perverse state of affairs:
“The solutions employed by corporates are merely intended to comply with the minimum requirements of the law, which does not necessarily translate to real empowerment. This is evidenced by the recruitment, promotion and skills-development patterns exercised by companies that still favour whites over black men. If a “black executive” is considered, then a black man is top of mind. When they think about “female executives,” then white women are top of mind. When a black woman is wanted for a position, then Indian women are the norm – black and coloured women are simply overlooked.” – No easy ride for women professionals, Business Media Mags.
The Alternative Prosperity Foundation’s overarching objective is to develop black leaders who drive nation building and transformation agendas, and lead inclusively. Leaders are necessarily employed in some shape or form, so the Foundation’s objective is inextricably linked to the employment of black people and black women in particular. As such, the Alternative Prosperity Foundation has partnered with gold Youth to implement a women’s leadership project.
Principles that informed and were implemented within the project:
• Built on existing strategies to increase sustainable job creation pathways and employability in gold Grads and youth.
• Identified those youth most likely to benefit
• Used this opportunity to have deeper impact, resulting in rich learning for going wider – informing our strategy to reach more youth.
• Met all of AP Foundation criteria and compliance requirements.
What has been done
21 youth were identified through the existing gold facilitator intern cohort in South Africa and were selected for an intensive and personal women empowerment, skills development and transformation journey over the 12-month period between September 2020 and August 2021, developed as learner support (education) agents within the context of the gold model across three South African provinces and 21 schools and communities in priority areas of South Africa.
Each youth that was part of the initiative underwent the Cognitive Psychometric test which is a comprehensive personality test that strengthens their understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, passions and career aspirations. This self-awareness tool is a powerful aid to meaningful future employability.
These youth were trained and equipped as non-professional education learner support agents towards facilitating the strengthening of academic support amongst school-going Peer Educators in the areas of mathematics concepts (numeracy) and English reading for meaning. The strengthening of mathematics concepts (numeracy) was done in partnership with a gold-youth collaboration partner called Reflective Learning.
Inputs that were funded:
- Each of the 21 youth received a tablet that has become their own asset for use on the programme and beyond.
- Data was provided for them to access the learner support agent training for numeracy as well as literacy implementation as well as to receive one-on-one online mentorship and support from gold field coordinators (and Reflective Learning, where this was required).
- Each of the 21 youth were exposed to women empowerment content and participated in a gold-youth gender relationships and rights talk group on zoom that they in turn equipped younger youth to implement in their schools and communities with their peers.
- On 9 December 2020, a Women Empowerment Webinar was held as an introductory session. Iris Cupido – CEO of the SABC foundation spoke at the December webinar and shared her personal experience as a woman in business.