By Mpolai Nkopane, Acting CEO, Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA)

Image credit: - freepik

Image credit: – freepik

When it comes to women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming activities in South Africa, government departments and State-owned entities must not underestimate the power women hold to lead by example.

Further, these entities can initiate programmes and policies, which have positive knock-on effects for women in wider industries. With this column, I hope to encourage others to explore how they can practically engage on the gender agenda.

The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) is fortunate to exist at the intersection of the construction sector, government, and the South African people. This gives us three areas in which we can contribute to gender mainstreaming. Led by a council that is mostly comprised of women, we have initiated a Sector Development and Transformation Programme for Gender Mainstreaming in Social Housing. As we are transforming within our agency, we are promoting transformation externally, too.

For tenants of social housing, we are working on improving access to community and social services and enhancing the economic mobility of women. We are investigating how best to do this in a sustainable way, supported by the right resources. Measures to address gender-based violence are also part of our action plan. We strive to promote women’s leadership and employment in related professional and construction sectors and addressing sexism in the social housing sector. Through collaboration with partners, we have planned workshops, incubation opportunities, and mentorship for women in the industry and up-and-coming social housing institutions (SHIs). We are in the process of developing an inclusive growth policy, which seeks to positively discriminate and advocate for women and designated groups in terms of access to the opportunities provided by the SHRA.

Within the entity itself, we are implementing policies and practices for women’s leadership and mobility in the sector, with a focus on appropriate succession planning which prioritises female employees.

Here, I have explored just some of the initiatives that we are looking at as the SHRA. What can you do to contribute to the gender agenda? The answer is not always simple, but my advice is that the first step is to look within. What is your board composition? Multiple studies show that having women on your board of directors has tangible benefits for not just your bottom line, but your reputation as a socially conscious organisation. It’s time you make the move.

“This gives us three areas in which we can contribute to gender mainstreaming.”