“If you’ve got to deal with extra pressure, got to do double the work that a man does to get the recognition, you can become despondent. What we need is not just women who speak up for their own rights, we need those men who know what is right, to do the right thing and also stand up for women,” von Eck, the CEO of The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIA SA), told CNBC Africa.
The IIA SA offers technical guidance, professional training programs, certification programs, continuing professional development opportunities, conferences and networking opportunities for both men and women.
While Von Eck emphasised the importance of providing these opportunities for women, President Jacob Zuma stressed in his National Women’s Day speech that work still needs to be done to promote equality.
He indicated that, according to the Commission for Employment Equity Annual report for 2013, white males occupy 80 per cent of top management positions in the private sector. This demonstrates that the achievement of equality, both at race and gender levels, remains stagnant.
Government is in the process of finalising the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which will enforce gender equity compliance within both government and the private sector.
Until it is fully established however, Von Eck believes that women have to see the obstacles they encounter in the business environment as a chance to grow.
“The view that I take is that it actually strengthens you so rather take it as a stepping stone as opposed to a stone that is being thrown at you. It’s really about teaching our women to stand and to take the trials and use them to make you stronger.”