- “It can raise the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic management” – BSE board member Lekono Phiri
The Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) recently joined more than 80 securities exchanges around the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day that fell on Wednesady 8 March.
Themed “DigitAll: Innovation & Technology for Gender Equality in Recognition of Women and Girls Who Are Championing the Advancement of Transformative Technology and Digital Education,” the occasion explored the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities with discussions shedding light on the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.
Setting the tone at the March Opening Bell Ceremony to mark the day, BSE board member Lekono Phiri highlighted the importance of a gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education, saying that can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement. “Advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges and aim to achieve one of the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals,” she stated.
However, Phiri also noted that opportunities in the digital revolution also present a risk of perpetuating and even worsening existing patterns of gender inequality as evident in women lagging behind acquistion of digital skills and access to technology. “Therefore, the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education is crucial for a sustainable future,”she asserted.
Phiri pointed out the current underrepresentation of women in STEM education and careers, which remains a major barrier to women’s participation in tech design and governance. She noted that the pervasive threat of online gender-based violence – coupled with a lack of legal recourse for victims – also often forces women out of the digital spaces that they may occupy.
Phiri described the digital age as a platform that represents an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate all forms of disparity and inequality through areas like gender-responsive digital learning and tech-facilitated sexual and reproductive healthcare. She called on governments, activists and the private sector alike to strengthen their efforts to make the digital world safer, more inclusive and more equitable.
“Facing a diversity of global crises, we have a chance to create a better future – not just for women and girls but for all humanity and all life on earth,” she said. “In due time, I trust our collective efforts will steer the tide toward a more gender-balanced world.” Turning to specifiacally to the BSE, Phiri told stakeholders of the efforts and commitment of the local bourse to promote gender equality in the workplace.
To that end, the BSE has conceptualised several policies to safeguard and promote gender balance, including its Sexual Harassment Policy and Remuneration Policy, which advocate for equal benefits while its Maternity/Paternity Leave Policy ensures paid salaries during pregnancy for female employees. “Further, the BSE has ensured that 50 percent of its Senior Management positions are occupied by women while 62 percent of women make up the entire staff complement,” Phiri noted.
The commemoration included a panel discussion in which leading women in the technology participated. They consisted of:
- Nomsa Makgebenyana, who is Co-Founder and CEO of Seipone AI, a marketing technology developed to give marketers, brand builders and product owners, true insights and sentiments of the Arican consumer regardless of the language they express themselves in;
- Sethebe Manake, Founder and MD of Gosmartvalue, which is a platform that provides access to real estate trends and information enabling intelligent investment decisions, smart valuations, and smart financing in Africa; and
- Lungile Lufuno, the Assistant Portfolio Manager for Eskom Pension and Provident Fund, who joined the discussions virtually from South Africa.