Women should participate meaningfully in all discussions, decisions, forums, and action plans that affect business, government and society at large.

A pre-eminent group of South African business women gathered today at the Johannesburg
Stock Exchange (JSE) to assert their collective voice advocating that women should
participate meaningfully in all discussions, decisions, forums, and action plans that affect
business, government and society at large.

The group, representing 100 members of the South African chapter of the International
Women’s Forum, was led by incoming President Ms. Irene Charnley (Founder of Smile
Telecom, Vice President Ms. Nolitha Fakude (Chairman of the Board of Anglo American in
South Africa) and Board Member Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe (Business Woman,
Philanthropist and Chancellor Elect of the University of Cape Town).

Unveiling the organisations renewed vision and strategic priorities, incoming President of the
International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA) Ms Charnley said, “We have a crucial
role as women leaders to promote ethical leadership in our country and of being a leading
voice for women leadership in business, government and society at large,”
“We note in particular that a recent delegation of CEO leaders to visit President Cyril
Ramaphosa to discuss economic issues had not included a single woman, this needs to
change,” Ms Charnley said.

“Our organisation has a rejuvenated focus to be a powerful voice advocating for issues that
affect women across the board. At the same time, we look forward to serious engagement
and building strategic alliances with government and other institutions of society, such as
business, academia, and civil society, so that our voice is heard and given the gravitas that
we as women leaders expect,” she added.

Commenting on recent research that was released on ‘The Status of Gender on Listed
Boards’ – a study of the opportunities for gender balancing the boards of companies listed on
the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Ms. Charnley said: “ Whilst we welcome the
improvement on the number of women serving on boards we note with disappointment that
only 51 of the 310 companies surveyed publish a gender policy and make it easily
accessible on their website. This is not acceptable.”

Ms Charnley further noted that the organization was mindful on the calls made by women at
marches held across the country in September regarding the spate of Gender Based
Violence (GBV).

“It is simply not good enough for business to continue to be silent on GBV. We wish to
underline the importance of economically empowering women and providing them with
financial education, so that they have the ability to manage their own financial
circumstances, without reliance on others.”

Women are an integral part of every facet of the economy and every business in this
country. For business to refuse to take action against GBV is akin to the days in which they
refused to denounce the evil of apartheid.”

“Government, civil society and business must together take proper responsibility for this evil
that has remained hidden in our society for too long. As an organisation, we are fully
committed to doing our part to be part of the solution to ensure that the women and girl
children of South Africa achieve their birthright to live in safety and free from any threat of
violence,” she said.

Standing alongside Ms Charney for her 2-year term of office was the newly constituted
board of the organisation comprising:

  • Ms Irene Charnley, President
    Founder and Deputy Chairman, Smile Telecoms
  • Ms Nolitha Fakude, Vice-President
    Chairman of Anglo American, South Africa
  • Ms Lesego Sennelo, Treasurer
    Founder and Managing Director of Gosele Advisory Services
  • Ms Dot Field, Secretary
    Owner Dot Field Consulting
  • Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Board member
    Philanthropist and Chancellor Elect University of Cape Town
  • Ms June Crawford, Board member
    CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa
  • Dr Nomonde Mabuya, Board member
    Chairman Health Squared medical scheme board of trustees
  • Ms Tryphosa Ramano, Board member
    Outgoing CFO PPC
  • Ms Janine Hills, Board member
    Founder and Executive Director, Vuma Reputation Management