The Business Women Association of South Africa (BWASA) announced that nominations for the 37th annual Businesswoman of the Year Awards (BWA) are now closed and that the 2017 contingent of nominees is of unsurpassed stature in each of the five categories of Corporate, Government, Social Entrepreneurship, Education and Science and Technology. Sasol is honoured to be this years’ headline sponsor.
The short-listed finalists will be revealed on 21 June following a process of judging, and the winners will be celebrated at a prestigious gala event to be held at the Sandton ICC in September. They will join the ranks of some of the greatest women luminaries in Africa’s civil, government and business communities including human rights activist and humanitarian Graca Machel who won the BWA Lifetime achievement award in 2016. Previous keynote speakers included former South African public protector Thuli Madonsela, and the first woman President of Malawi Joyce Banda.
Titled ‘Women with NO FILTER – Celebrating leaders who honour themselves and others,’ this year’s event shines a spotlight on women leaders whose essence embodies qualities of grace, truth, wisdom and excellence, says BWA President, Farzanah Mall. “The 2017 winners will thereby be phenomenal women who have pushed against the tide of patriarchal norms daily by being the best they can be, and staying true to who they are without pretension as well as acknowledging both their successes and development areas with humility and humaneness.”
Yet award ceremonies alone are not sufficient to realise the vision of the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) to see women take their rightful place as economic drivers within decision-making roles. On the contrary, statistics such as those found in the latest Grant Thornton Women in Business Report, March 2017, reveal that globally, the percentage of women in senior management teams have only risen by one percentage point in 2017 to 25%. Further, the number of businesses with no women at all in senior leadership has also risen by 1 percentage point to 34% in the last year. The report also reveals that the growth of women into senior leadership positions has only moved by 6 percent in the 13 years of its existence.
“This is why in a market fast becoming saturated with award initiatives, our awards serve as a pivotal point for our main programs. In highlighting the current role of women in leadership, we advocate for transformation of the economy and an equitable role for women’s participation in the economy and its dividends.
“Throughout the year BWA runs entrepreneurial, leadership and skills development programs for women and girls. We also invest in rural community leadership programs, provide mentorship, research and advocacy and we create networking opportunities for women. Our programs boost member’s confidence levels and stretch their capabilities far beyond what they can imagine for themselves or their businesses.
“Because of our efforts, today we see women taking leadership roles even in industries like technology, logistics, construction, mining, engineering and automotive which were off limits to them not that long ago,” concludes Mall.
A large portion of the proceeds from the Awards goes to funding development programs and the BWA Bursary fund, which has to date been distributed to over 100 deserving women candidates to further their studies.