According to the latest WEF gender gap report, while all world regions record a narrower overall gender gap than they did 11 years ago, South Africa has slipped backwards, falling from 18th place in 2006 to 19th in 2017. On the score of Economic participation and opportunity, the country has slipped ten places from 79th to 89th.
“This should not come as a surprise,” says Petra Rees, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) member and Founder of LEAP, an enterprise development company, “the recent report by our own Department of Labour has shown that 45% of South Africa's economically active population is female, yet just 22% of Top Management positions and 33% of Senior Management positions are held by women.”
Rees believes that promoting more female participation in entrepreneurship is a good way to accelerate the process of meaningfully narrowing the gender gap.
“With the right tools and support, we are bound to see more women take the plunge into entrepreneurship. The City of Johannesburg was ranked 28 out of 50 cities globally in the 2017 Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index, for showcasing skill development and business opportunities for women. While this was a drop from the previous year, it is recognition that we have the necessary tools to support female entrepreneurs.”
For those women considering starting their own businesses, Tebogo Nkosi, female founder of engineering firm Boffin & Fundi advises that “If you don’t step out into the unknown you will never get to see the masterpiece you would have created. That nagging feeling that you wrestle with constantly whether you should or not, is the very reason that you should take the plunge and create your masterpiece”.
Rees agrees. “The support is there, with an increasing number of funding opportunities focusing on lending to women such as the IDF Managers Fund, Women Entrepreneurial Fund, Business Partners Women in Business Fund, ABSA Women Empowerment Fund, The Isivande Women’s Fund, to name a few. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 27% more men than women are aware of what resources are available to entrepreneurs.
Nicola Nel, founder of Atmosphere Communications, South Africa’s most awarded PR agency admits that running a business requires more than access to funding. “While there is a renewed focus on giving new women business owners opportunities to be part of the mainstream economy, one of the core elements which I believe is missing is upskilling on basic business education as well as good business mentors. There are many organisations – such as EO which enables first-stage entrepreneurs of all genders to catapult their business to the next level – that female entrepreneurs can join for this type of support,” says Nel.
“Women need to play to their strength more – they need to organize themselves better,” adds Rees.
Lauren Gamsu, a young female founder of architectural firm Black Sheep says finding a good network to connect and share experiences with like-minded entrepreneurs has been invaluable in growing her business acumen and personal resilience. “Reaching out to entrepreneurial networks, coaches and mentors, as well as attending impactful events like the recent Women of EO event has been a major business advantage to grow my network.”
Rees adds, “We have a rising number of women entrepreneurs joining EO, a clear indication that the tide is turning for female entrepreneurship. In addition, we often see women progressing much faster with their ideas and existing business ventures when they can bounce their ideas off a mentor or a group of experts.”
With the right tools and support available, Lesley Waterkeyn, founder of marketing agency Colour Works says women can build a successful venture by “bootstrapping your business as much as you can – borrow from people who believe in you and your idea. Remember, sales solve everything. Any profits you make, re-invest in your business until you have a track-record and proven concept. Back yourself, stay committed and have a long-term mindset.”
Germany is widely seen as a world leader in the fight against climate change. Thanks to its investments in renewable power, wind and solar energy provide a third of its electricity, more than double the U.S. share.
Germany's goal to lower carbon-dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2020 is significantly more ambitious than that of Europe as a whole or the U.S.
After the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed even greater determination. "We can't wait for the last man on Earth to be convinced by the scientific evidence for climate change," she explained.
But there's another, troubling side to the German story: The country still gets 40 percent of its energy from coal, a bigger share than most other European countries. And much of it is lignite, the dirtiest kind of coal. As a result, Germany is set to fall well short of its 2020 goal.
Lignite from pit to smokestack. Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg
This dependence on coal is partly a side effect of Germany's abandonment of emissions-free nuclear power and partly foot-dragging on the part of a government wary of alienating voters in German coal country. During the summer election campaign, Merkel largely avoided the subject.
Suddenly, though, the politics have changed. Merkel is struggling to form a new government, and the Green Party, one of three would-be coalition partners, is insisting that coal-fired power plants start to close -- the 20 dirtiest ones right away. This wouldn't solve the problem, but it would put Germany on a path to serious emissions reductions, and it's the only way to bring that 2020 emissions target back in sight. To live up to the claims she's been making, Merkel should deliver these closures.
It's not just the political moment that's right. German unemployment is at a record low, and thousands of new jobs have opened in renewable energy -- making this a good time to help affected coal miners and coal-plant workers move into other kinds of work. The power market, for its part, is oversupplied, so a loss of coal plants would not appreciably raise the price of electricity for consumers in the short term.
Looking ahead, the best way to ensure that coal-fired electricity plants keep closing is a rising price of carbon. On that front, there is good news: Promised reforms to the European Union's cap-and-trade system would shrink its chronic oversupply of emissions permits. By 2020, according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, this should triple the price of carbon to 24 euros a ton -- high enough to push all European countries away from coal.
If Merkel acts on the proposal to close those lignite-powered plants, she'll give this overdue shift some fresh momentum.
The armed forces seized power in Zimbabwe after a week of confrontation with President Robert Mugabe’s government and said the action was needed to stave off violent conflict in the southern African nation that he’s ruled since 1980.
The Zimbabwe Defense Forces will guarantee the safety of Mugabe, 93, and his family and is only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address in Harare, the capital. All military leave has been canceled, he said. Mugabe is preparing to step down, Johannesburg-based News24 reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.
Denying that the action was a military coup, Moyo said “as soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.” He urged the other security services to cooperate and warned that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”
The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”
As several armored vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.
Constantino ChiwengaPhotographer: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP via Getty Images
The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace, 52, and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband.
The events unfolded as Zimbabwe is in deep crisis. The economy has halved in size since 2000 and the nation has no currency of its own, using mainly the dollar as legal tender. Lines of people waiting to make bank withdrawals snake around city blocks in Harare. Some sleep in the streets to ensure they’re served. An estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile.
The country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.
Man In Uniform
“When you see a man in uniform reading news on national television, you know it’s done,” he said in a text message. “There are no more questions. Authority is now in the hands of the military.”
Mnangagwa, who said he fled Zimbabwe because of threats against him and his family, had been a pillar of a military and security apparatus that helped Mugabe emerge as the nation’s leader after independence from the U.K. in 1980. He was Zimbabwe’s first national security minister.
Mnangagwa’s dismissal signaled Mugabe’s break with most of his allies who fought in the liberation war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia, leaving his wife’s so-called Generation-40 faction of younger members of the ruling party in the ascendancy. While Zanu-PF named Mugabe as its presidential candidate in elections next year against a possible seven-party opposition coalition, he’s appeared frail in public, sparking concern among his supporters that he wouldn’t be able to complete another five-year term.
In this image made from video, Major Gen. S.B. Moyo addresses to the nation in Harare on Nov. 15.Photographer: ZBC via AP Photo
Moyo, in the statement, told members of parliament that the military’s “desire is that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective constituencies according to democratic tenants.”
Elections probably won’t be held as scheduled, Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst with the Harare-based Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said by phone.
“The military is going to determine the shape of Zimbabwean politics, although they’ve tried to say this is not a coup,” he said. “This may result in the creation of a new unity government which will involve the opposition.”