International Women's Day - focusing on innovative ways to boost gender equality

Africa Melane is in Switzerland attending an International Women’s Day Conference arranged by Phillip Morris International where female thought leaders address a room full of men on how we should shape communicating with women in the future.

It will take more than 200 years before we close the global gender pay gap. This is according to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum. Women’s declining participation in politics, coupled with unequal access to health care and education are some of the factors offsetting any progress being achieved in improving women's wages.

In South Africa, the picture is just as bleak. Research consistently shows that women are getting paid considerably less than men - some 73% of what men earn, according to a recent Ipsos study, 2017 Pulse of the People Report.

Imagine for a moment that a female employee only starts earning money at 11:09 am, even though she and her male counterpart both started work at 8:00 am. This is a rather simplistic example to use for what is a complex issue, I agree. However, a number of factors contribute to women unfairly earning less money than men, even for doing the same work at times.

International Women’s Day 2019 is observed on 8 March with the theme ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.’ The focus is on innovative ways in which to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Flipping the script on traditional events held on this day, Phillip Morris International Inc. (PMI) has invited more than 150 nominated male employees from across the globe to the idyllic setting of Lausanne, Switzerland to hear from female thought leaders. These women are presenting insights on themes of equality, gender and new strategies for engaging diverse conversations with internal and external audiences.

Speaking at the ‘Fair Share: The Future of Communicating with Women’ Conference, senior vice president of global communications, Marian Salzman said at PMI they talk about giving everyone a ‘fair share,’ not just women. This is a discussion that's vital to everyone she added, recognising that to empower women, men must be engaged and empowered to be advocates for equality.

PMI is the first business in the world to earn global EQUAL-SALARY certification.

Earlier in the day, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, released a statement. It reads: ‘Women and girls must have opportunities to contribute to making real change, and help shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact their lives. As we have seen from recent marches for climate action in Europe and elsewhere - they are ready to do so.’

South Africa marks National Women’s Day on 9 August every year to commemorate the more than 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 to petition against the country’s pass laws.


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