According to a report by the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that by 2050, one-quarter of the world’s population will be African, which means that one in eight people will be an African woman.
Yet, even with these statistics, African women lack the economic clout their numbers might suggest.
That disconnect has adverse implications for Africa’s prospects and necessitates the need for companies to embrace diversity and inclusion at the work place. The report by the World Economic Forum further highlights that African women are barely present even in boardrooms within Africa, where 95 per cent of CEOs are men.
During the last week of September, the Kigali Global Shapers’ #MeetTheLeader event brought together participants from different sectors to discuss the state of gender diversity in the country.
The two-hour event was led by Patience Mutesi, Country Director for TradeMark East Africa, and Florence Gatome, Country Senior Partner at PwC Rwanda, who delved into the barriers women face as they climb the corporate.
Mutesi shared that she would categorise the challenges she has faced as she progresses in her career into two; her own inhibitions and external ones.
“As a woman, even when you’re the most skilled person for the job, you’re always questioning yourself. The fact that most companies have a threshold in place for women representation illustrates that it is not natural and there’s still a lot of work to be done to encourage women participation,” she said.
Gatome said that, among avenues of intervention, include starting from childhood as mentors and support system.
“It starts at home, as children are growing, help them see each other as equals. In the long run, you’re helping our society. With regard to climbing the corporate ladder as a woman, all the way to the boardroom (senior management) you will need; mentors who are intentional, a promoter and a supportive system at home,” she said.
Participants noted that the superiority complex that patriarchism holds, stems from, illustrating the combined efforts needed from of genders to ensure there is diversity within organizations.
According to data from the African Development Bank, women hold only 12.7 per cent of the board seats in Africa’s top listed companies and we believe that converging in a safe space such as this allows people get to discuss pressing issues, however it should not stop here.
In order for a satisfactory representation of women in the workplace to become second nature to organizations/companies, the conversations need to continue but most importantly, we need to raise future generations with an equality mindset. We must admit Rwanda has made major steps so far but more can be done especially in our homes and in our organizations.