It’s that time of the year again! August is here and that means it’s time for South African women in business to be put into the spotlight. I’m sure what I’m about to say isn’t going to be surprising, but it’s rough out here, even more so for our wonder women.
So, when Women’s Month comes around, we’ve got to make the most out of it and treat our women like the heroes that they are. I don’t mean just giving them a discount code or a flower to say; “I’ve done my part for Women’s Month.” What I mean is: support their growth in both personal and professional spaces and use your voice to change the narrative when you come across people who don’t.
Why is Women’s Month such a big deal in our country anyway?
65 years ago on 9 August 1956, more than 20,000 of our mothers, daughters, and sisters marched to the Union Buildings as part of a non-violent protest against the extension of the Pass Laws to women. After reaching the Union Buildings, they stood in silence for 30 minutes. And their voices were heard.
We commemorate this day and month in honour of the women who took a stance, who displayed strength, resilience, and unity to be the change they wished to see. So, yeah, Women’s Month IS a pretty big deal for us!
Our women are resourceful. When things go wrong, they make a plan and all is well again. When jobs are scarce, they create their own and build businesses from the ground up, paving the way for others. According to the South African results of the latest Mastercard Women Entrepreneurs Index, structural and social obstacles still hinder the progress of South African women in business, despite the headway that’s been made.
What can you do to support women in business? Here are five practical ways!
1. Buy from women-owned businesses
This is probably one of the easiest ways to support women in business — by being a customer. Whether you’re a consumer or an entrepreneur, shop from businesses owned by women or take them on as a vendor.
2. Be generous with your business know-how
Are you a business-owner with loads of hard-earned lessons under your belt? How about taking some time out to share them with a woman entrepreneur who’s new to the game? Getting advice from someone with years of experience is invaluable!
3. Sharing is caring — social media edition
Social media marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing in the digital age. By simply sharing posts from women-owned businesses, you help them improve their reach and in turn, get more customers. Supporting women in business with just a click of a button? Count me in!
4. Be an advocate for gender-equality
Despite all the work that’s been done over the years, women in business are (still!) underestimated and often treated unfairly. This doesn’t just affect their working relationships, but also their contracts and financial agreements with suppliers and landlords as well. Imagine being denied financing or being asked by a vendor to pay in cash upfront, just because you’re a woman. Ya, hey, unfortunately gender discrimination is still rife in society today. This is why it is now more important than ever to be an ally and advocate for women to be treated just as men are.
5. Mentor women in business
If you’ve got experience in running a successful business, consider mentoring a female entrepreneur. Running your own business can be tough, especially if you’re new at it. Having a mentor who takes you under their wing and shows you the ropes could be the reason why a business owner chooses to keep their doors open day after day. A listening ear, thoughtful advice, and practical solutions from a mentor may well make all the difference.
Madiba once said: “To change the lives of women and to achieve our goals as a nation, we must also ensure that women participate fully in every sphere of the economic and political life of our country.”
For sure, our country has come a mighty long way since the era of Pass Laws – but we still have a lot of work to do to honour the women of our nation. We should reflect on how we, as a nation, can promote equal opportunities and a better society for our women, the backbone of our country. Supporting women in business is a step in the right direction.
Are you ready to join the cause?