While immense strides have been taken on the path to strengthening women’s rights and driving gender diversity in recent years, there is still a long way to go and significant barriers to overcome to ensure equal participation of women in the global economy.
“Many challenges stand in the way of African women who want to develop themselves and participate in the formal economy, whether it be in the entrepreneurial or corporate fields that have only been exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and associated lockdowns on informal economies in Africa”, notes Lindy-Lou Alexander, Brand and Marketing Group Head for Consumer & High Net Worth at Standard Bank.
Standard Bank Group is moving to make its mark as the largest financial services organisation on the continent by investing in people internally and externally as a catalyst for economic change in the societies in which it operates.
The bank has been working to identify the barriers to the advancement of women at an executive level, and in their entrepreneurial endeavours. These insights have been leveraged to inform appropriate interventions as part of its gender equality focus.
The bank has since thrown its weight behind actionable and socially impactful projects and partnerships that target and empower women as the drivers of Africa’s growth and sustainability.
One such initiative is the Standard Bank Top Women Conference, which aims to connect women entrepreneurs, global icons, thought leaders and experts to offer inspiration, practical solutions, access to networks and support to female entrepreneurs as well as businesswomen in Africa.
This year’s event, which takes place from October 6-7, will focus on providing African female entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge to survive the negative impact of Covid-19 and to encourage growth and trade in Africa.
Other initiatives supported by Standard Bank include; African Women Impact Fund initiative (AWIF); the Anakazi Programme in Zambia; the DADA programme in Kenya; and the United Nation (UN) Women’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme in Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, and South Africa.
Standard Bank also partnered with the United Nations Women He4She movement in 2018 to become a global thematic champion.
The initiative requires its signatories to commit to actionable change within and outside of their organisations that align to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality.