by Toni Gomes

African women unite

SA to host regional women congress

Officials from BPW and the Commonwealth Business Council

More than 150 African women leaders from business, government and civil society will converge in Johannesburg from 18-20 July, 2013 to celebrate Women’s Month at the Business & Professional Women (BPW) African regional congress, held in partnership with the Department of Trade & Industry.

 Delegates represent 22 BPW African countries and are senior businesswomen in their respective countries, including board members, directors and even government representatives.  Countries represented include South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoir, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sudan, DRC, Uganda, Zambia, Egypt and many more.  

 Under the theme Empowering African women for business leadership, the congress is an opportunity for African women to take stock of the progress made and to reiterate their commitment to address the many challenges in their path to gender equality and empowerment of women, specifically as it relates to women on boards, procurement and trade.

 The Congress will also be the South African launch pad for Commonwealth Businesswomen (CBW) - a joint initiative from the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) initially launched at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Business Forum in October 2011. 

 The CBW Agenda for Women’s Economic Empowerment works to galvanize and strengthen the enormous potential of female entrepreneurs and businesswomen through a threefold agenda, namely (a) Women on Commonwealth Boards and in senior decision-making roles;  (b) encourage the adoption of preferential procurement for women vendors; (c) Women and international trade.  The BPW South Africa existing Women on boards and women-owned enterprises programmes are strengthened through this initiative, giving our certified women opportunities on an international platform.  These priority areas also align with, and reinforce, the UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) which were launched by Minister Rob Davies in July 2011 in South Africa, through a partnership between BPW South Africa and the dti.

 The main aim of CBW is to advocate and increase the quantity, quality, impact and pipeline for women on Commonwealth boards of major companies and government agencies and to build a community and network of supportive stakeholders. CBW aims to develop an international pipeline of female targets for national and international board positions in Commonwealth companies moving towards a global board database of female non-executive director candidates.

 Renowned speakers at the congress include Deputy Director General Mr Sipho Zikode (Department of Trade & Industry) His Excellency, Mr. S.S Yusuf, High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr Patrick Wamoto, High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya, Counsellor Connie Bontle Bapela, the speaker of Council of City of Johannesburg ans Mr Arif Zaman, Advisor Commonwealth Business Council.

 They will headline a Panel Discussion with senior businesswomen facilitated by the Commission for Gender Equality regarding the slow pace of women on boards in Africa, as well as numerous international speakers.  (A detailed programme is available at - Events).


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