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BCM empowering women to break the bias

By Azile Sontlaba

Held in honour of the International Women’s Day, observed on 8 March, the Buffalo City Metro hosted an event in the form of a panel discussion at the East London ICC on March 31.

Under the theme #BreakTheBias: A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world where difference is valued and celebrated, the event was aimed at empowering all women. The program began three hours late.

Leading the panel discussions BCM Deputy Executive Mayor Princess Faku called for the end of the injustices that women face as a result of the stereotypes against women that include poverty, getting underpaid, violence and violence.

“There is no better way to break this bias other than to deliver economic power to the hands of the woman and to do the necessary programmatic work to end the violence in our communities that is aided by masculine convictions,” said Princess.

Highlighting the need for women to stand together, panellist and Minister of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that all women ought to be recognise the importance of the roles each one plays, without looking at status; from domestic workers, teachers, housewives, CEOs and to those who fought in the struggles for our freedom.

“We should not allow ourselves to be classified as different women. We are women and that is what unites us and if we understand that, it means we are able to stand together to say that we are not going to accept any injustices towards women. That’s the only way we’ll break the bias,” Stella added.

Speaking on the gap between women and men, Stella said that it is more of an issue of exposure over capabilities and that for the gap to be reduced, structures must be created to give women opportunities as part of dealing with the injustices of the past.

“This is why the Department of Small Business Development has taken a conscious decision in saying that at least 40% of our budget must go to women-owned businesses,” said Stella.

Breaking a track of men-only leadership in the Border-Kei Chamber of Business and becoming the first ever female Executive Director, panellist Lizelle Maurice is proof of breaking the bias and infiltrating male-dominated spaces.

Lizelle noted a number of top performing companies in the country have women in their leadership and in their management, saying, “Wherever you place a woman, economies strive. When you place money in the hands of a woman, economies strive. Women have a lot of power but they need to start believing in who they are.”

Attendees included BCM Councillors, tertiary institutions, NGOs, Church organisations and entrepreneurs.

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