Women of In­flu­ence

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

The roles of home­maker, obe­di­ent wife, and du­ti­ful mother have re­stricted the fe­male gen­der for as far back as the his­tory books can record. In spite of the progress we have made for gen­der equal­ity thanks to cru­sades such as the fem­i­nist move­ment, and de­spite the fact that we are liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury, women are still se­verely un­der­rep­re­sented in the work­place and un­der-cel­e­brated for their achieve­ments.

since the No­bel Prize was first awarded in 1901, there have been 825 male win­ners, but only 48 fe­male win­ners. In the south African busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, the sta­tis­tics are just as shock­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Grant Thornton’s 2014 In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Re­port, only 15% of com­pa­nies have fe­male board mem­bers, 26% of se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions are held by women, and 21% of lo­cal busi­nesses have no women at all in se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions. For the past seven years, sta­tis­tics have re­mained static with the av­er­age per­cent­age of women in se­nior busi­ness po­si­tions sit­ting at around a mea­gre 26%.

How­ever, there are in­spir­ing women lead­ing the charge against our pa­tri­ar­chal con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety. Au­gust is women’s Month, a na­tional trib­ute to the thou­sands of women who bravely protested against pass laws on 9 Au­gust 1956, and a re­minder of the ongoing bat­tle for gen­der equal­ity. so, SLOW thought it ap­pro­pri­ate to revel in the suc­cesses of some of the world’s most pow­er­ful women who have bro­ken through the glass ceil­ing, and have shown that it is pos­si­ble to for a woman to come out on top – even while liv­ing in a man’s world.

In 2016, Maria Ramos, CEO of Bar­clays Africa Group, was rated the 20th Most In­flu­en­tial Busi­ness­woman in the world by For­tune mag­a­zine. Ramos is re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing to­gether 12 banks across the African con­ti­nent to form Bar­clays Africa Group (BAGL) – a sin­gle pan-african in­sti­tu­tion with an in­de­pen­dent board and sep­a­rate list­ing on the Jo­han­nes­burg stock Exchange. If it were not for her tenac­ity, Ramos might have never reached this suc­cess. orig­i­nally told that the schol­ar­ship for her de­gree was re­served for only men, Ramos was able to con­vince the men in charge to give her the same chance at suc­cess as was af­forded to her male peers.

Güler sa­banci, listed as the 64th most Pow­er­ful woman in the world by Forbes in 2016, was the first fe­male mem­ber of the Turk­ish In­dus­tri­al­ists’ and Busi­ness­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, as well as the first and only fe­male mem­ber of the Euro­pean Round Ta­ble of In­dus­tri­al­ists. To­day, she is the first woman to run sa­banci Hold­ing, Turkey’s second-largest con­glom­er­ate, and is an ac­tive pro­moter for gen­der equal­ity in Turkey.

Fel­low fe­male rights cru­sader, Chanda Kochhar, CEO and managing di­rec­tor of ICICI Bank, and rated For­tune mag­a­zine’s fifth most Pow­er­ful Woman in the World in 2016, is also fight­ing for women’s in­ter­ests in her home coun­try, In­dia. A sur­vey at her com­pany re­vealed that two-thirds of the fe­male em­ploy­ees sur­veyed said they had quit their job be­cause of long com­mutes and child-care re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. In an ef­fort to re­tain fe­male staff, Kochhar launched the iwork@home pro­gramme in March last year, which en­ables fe­male em­ploy­ees to work from home for a year to see to the fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of car­ing for new-born chil­dren. Kochhar is us­ing her power and in­flu­ence to make sure that other fe­males get a fair chance of reach­ing the level of suc­cess that she has al­ready achieved.

Fe­males gain­ing equal rights may have come a long way, but we are by no means done with the strug­gle for equal­ity. Take this women’s Month to cel­e­brate the women who have made it to the top, and have pro­vided many fel­low women with the nec­es­sary step­ping stones to fol­low in their foot­steps.

Chanda Kochhar

Güler Sa­bancı

Maria Ramos

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