A cross section of staff at the SOS Children’s Villages Liberia National Office, including National Director Augustine Allieu (4th from right).Gender inequality in workplaces continues to be a subject of concern across the world, particularly in developing countries. From the private to public sectors the situation remains a serious challenge.
SOS Children’s Villages seems committed to changing this paradigm, as the current National Management Team has sought to make its senior management team more gender friendly. “Bridging the gap between genders and placing qualified and/or potential women in senior management positions remains a priority”, notes Augustine Allieu, National Director.
In order to achieve this, SOS Liberia has as one of its strategic directions to “be an employer of choice, continuously working to improve the overall work environment and working conditions and building a family of committed and trustworthy co-workers; secondly to identify qualified and potential co-workers and invest in local capacity building of national staff, with a focus on gender equality”.
The SOS Liberia National Association (NA) launched a “gender in the workplace initiative “by first of all announcing two gender champions who will lead the rest of the organization in ensuring an engendered workplace generally.
Since late last year, the NA has improved the ratio between males and females on the National Management Team to 50:50. Currently, more than half of the co-workers are females although this has not been reflected at the management level for a long time.
“Making female participation a priority in National Management discussions is highly encouraging”, notes Mrs. Sophie Ndong, Regional Strategy and Brand Advisor.
“This is just a start, as we hope to ensure gender cuts across not only our HR practices but all our programmes as well”, says Mr. Allieu. This approach is not only in conformity with the MDG Goal 3 of the United Nations, or the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979, (CEDAW), or the SOS Children’s Villages International Gender Equality Policy, it is also the right thing to do”, he concludes.
“The inclusion of qualified women on the current National Management Team signifies an equitable participation and representation of all,” Mrs. Miatta Sherman Jallah (Fund Development and Communications Manager), espoused, adding, that “it is a sincere attempt to get everyone on board to be part of decision making and development”.
Gender inequality in Africa is a multi-layered and complex issue. Women are principal victims, with different forms of inequality both in families and at workplaces. In a report released by the UNDP in 2017, it was found that women achieve only 87 per cent of the human development outcomes of men and only make 70 cents for each dollar made by men.
According to the World Bank, over 66 percent of Liberian females, age 15 and older, participate in some form of employment. Most of their employment is in the informal sector. This figure from the World Development Indicators put the percentage at 11.4, much lower than the Sub Saharan Africa average of 32 percent.
Although Liberian women continue to make strides in attaining gender parity in key decision-making positions nationally, however prior to the current administration women occupy 5 out of 21 Cabinet positions, 5 out of 36 legislator positions, and 5 out of 15 county-superintendent positions.
Moreover, there are also 2 women on the five-member Supreme Court bench. To promote gender inclusivity, Liberian legislators have introduced a “Fairness Bill” that requires at least 30 percent female representation in political offices and political parties’ leadership positions, a bill that is yet to be fully executed.