Capacity crowd gathers in Ongwediva for Businesswomen conference
“In 2017, 24 of the now top 74 central government positions are filled by women. That is a meaningful 32.4% and nearly 56% more than ten years ago. It also sets Namibia at the top in the Southern African Development Community for female leaders as a percentage of all people in top positions in central government.”
Special Advisor to the Governor of the Oshana Region, Mr Michael Mwinga told the delegates at the 18th Economist Businesswomen Conference in Ongwediva that Namibia has come a long way to promote the wellbeing and interests of women. “A decade ago, in 2007, only 18% of the then top 52 positions in government was women. Ten years later, that ratio has changed significantly.”
The conference started on Thursday morning, 10 August, in the conference hall of Bennies Entertainment Park, drawing a large group of business and professional women. This annual event is a partnership between The Economist and Standard Bank Namibia, and is also supported by Telecom, Old Mutual and Sure Ritz Corporate Travel. The conference has been presented uninterrupted for 18 years.
Mwinga further told his audience “Namibia also exceeds the SADC benchmark for minimum female representation of 20%, agreed on as part of the Millennial Development Goals. Even on regional level the improvement can be seen. Whereas in 2007, there were zero women Governors, there are now four. Out of the total of fourteen Governors, this may not sound much but as a percentage, it comes to 28.6%. This is a vast improvement during the relatively short span of ten years. Today, there are also many women serving as Councillors on Regional Councils.”
“But what does all this signify and why is it important that women step up and be seen and heard as leaders?” Mwinga asked.
“There are many qualities that women bring to the boardroom, the classroom, and the backroom where they manage their own businesses. In my view women approach problem solving in an intuitive manner. They listen to their inner voice. Secondly, their conduct is often more conciliatory, not necessarily avoiding conflict, but handling it in a genteel manner which most of the time resolves the conflict in such a way that it benefits their colleagues and their organisations” he continued.
Regarding women’s ability to make something out of the most limited of resources, Mwinga said “And then I have become aware over the years that women have an uncanny ability to do the most with the least of resources. Women are uniquely skilled and qualified to run businesses or to contribute to the prosperity of their company through their invaluable contribution as employees. Women are notorious, at board and council level, for staying within the budget, something we men often battle with. Having gone through a peculiar school in life, where the reality of only so much resources versus so many holes to fill, they are masters of making ends meet.”
“They are also masters of endurance, a very specific quality needed both for running a small business and for building a professional career. In the realm of women, those duties they are assigned by society, do not disappear overnight. Their caring and nurturing disposition to which I referred earlier, requires them to take care of the families entrusted to them, often for a lifetime. This fosters dedication and perseverance, qualities without which society and business can not progress” he said.