Gender empowerment in Botswana

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More women are being appointed to leadership positions in Botswana with the country being among the top ten countries in the world when it comes to its number of female CEOs, reveals the annual Grant Thornton survey.

One of the driving forces behind the fiscal strength of one of Africa’s top economies is Botswana’s Central Bank Governor, Linah Mohohlo; a woman who has twice been chosen as Central Bank Governor of the Year for the region, has served on the Commission for Africa and is credited for her role in establishing Botswana’s sound monetary policy and good credit rating and investment profile.

She is one of many women in leadership positions in Botswana – a country that is rated among the top 10 countries in the world for female CEOs. The latest Grant Thornton annual survey, released in March 2016, revealed that there was an increase of 7% to 23% from last year for women in leadership positions in Botswana. The country beat many industrial countries like Germany (with a dismal 15%) and Japan with a poor 7%.

This is good news for the economy – research shows that gender diversity is good for business. “There is plenty of research showing that gender diversity has many benefits for companies,” comments leadership development practitioner Liz de Wet from the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB). She says a recent study by Gallup found that gender-diverse business units have better financial outcomes overall than those dominated by one gender.

Botswana has made great strides towards gender equality with several government policies and initiatives in place to promote women in business, to help them with networking, recognition in the workplace and guidance in career development.

Mohohlo herself has said, “We have to make sure that women are equal partners in efforts to turn the corner. If women were to take part, we’d begin to see not just good governance but also leadership from a political and business standpoint.”

A key part of such a strategy around gender empowerment is education. Botswana has a slightly higher percentage of women in primary and secondary schools, according to stats from Unicef.

Mark Farrar, AAT CEO, says there is also a high percentage of women enrolling for qualifications with AAT.

Farrar says it is no coincidence that so many women in Botswana are turning to financial qualifications. Financial skills are in high demand in Botswana where government has been diversifying the economy over recent years to try and shift the country’s dependence on its rich diamond reserves – which some say will last only another two decades.

Although small when compared to neighbouring South Africa, the banking sector is growing too with new products and services delivered to customers. Some financial qualifications, like those from AAT, can be studied part time, as well as full time and are open to students with little to no previous experience. They offer students like payroll executive Stephinah Jeremiah, 28 a way onto the corporate ladder.

“AAT changed my life,” says Jeremiah, explaining that the financial skills she learnt while doing her accounting qualification ensured that she was able to get a job right away. “I did not have to wait after varsity like other students who struggle with job opportunities.”

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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