The excuse that there are no women who are skilled and talented out there is not true, says Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba.
“With commitment we will find them, they are there, we just don’t look hard enough or our eyes are trained to see talent only in men and we struggle to see it and find talent where women are concerned,” Gigaba said.
He was speaking on Saturday during the Eskom’s Women in Science and Engineering celebratory event held at Eskom’s Megawatt Park. The event formed part of Eskom’s 90th anniversary celebrations and served as a platform to acknowledge the significance of women in the Science and Engineering professions.
He said over 70% of DDGs in his department are females; the executive committee is almost 50/50. He said whenever the board sends him a request for an appointment, he tells them to go out and find women suitable for the position.
Gigaba challenged State Owned Companies (SOC) to play their rightful place at the forefront of developing skills particularly scarce and critical skills for South Africa.
“For them [SOC] to play that role, it means that the boards, the management must be transformative in their thinking and adopt the programmes that advance transformation, but it also means that the shareholder must not only set high standards for companies but must be exemplary in enforcing transformation.
“I ask this question at each AGM, when are we going to have 50/50, show me a robust programme of addressing gender inequality in this executive. SOC must play a prominent role in advancing this fundamentally transformative objective and policy of our country and if they do so SA will become a different and better place,” Gigaba said.
His message to young women in school and the corporate sector was that they should continue to raise the bar to challenge them to do better.
“The future is yours. When given an opportunity, excel in that opportunity and try to be the best. Exceed the bar, transcend it, go beyond the call of duty…it is you that we owe our sacrifices and energies today.”
He said unless women were empowered, the freedom South Africans claim to have enjoyed over the last 19 years, will never be enough.
“No country and no people can be free unless everybody is free. You can’t have freedom for the minority and no freedom for the majority and neither can you have freedom for the majority and there’s a minority that is not free, everybody must be free,” Gigaba said.
Eskom’s Chairman, Zola Tsotsi, commended Gigaba for inspiring women in the field of Science and Engineering, stressing the need to support him in empowering women in taking the rightful place.
“We need more women to enter these fields. Women Engineers and Scientists in the SOC are proof that when given the chance women excel in the technical fields. When it comes to finding solutions to real world problems, engineers and scientists have to think creatively.
“The world problems requires engineers and scientists who think about problems holistically, who are comfortable in creating designs and community development as they are in Maths and Science,” said Tsotsi.
He added that Eskom will do whatever it takes to bring women into this profession.
“One of the priorities is to make sure that more than 60% of Eskom annual intake is women, this is a difficult goal to achieve given that insufficient young women are coming from the education institutions.”
Eskom has adopted 22 schools from rural areas that have maths and science with emphasise on women. Eskom already has more than 2 800 university bursaries across the country, and of the 1 700 who are doing technical degrees, 789 are women.
During the event, certificates were handed over to top learners in last year’s Grade 12, who did well in Maths and Science.
SA Express CEO, Inati Ntshanga, noted that whilst there’s an improvement within the field of science and engineering, women are still under represented.