Gender Equality

More women needed at top management positions in Africa

New ILO study reveals that the ratio of working women in senior management positions in Africa is still very low and calls for innovative measures to operate meaningful change.

Press release | 12 January 2015
ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – Despite some concrete affirmative action measures, African women are still under-represented in top decision-making roles in the continent, states a new study by the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities.

Women increased their share of management jobs during the last decade in six countries – Botswana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa – while there was a slight decline in Ethiopia and a significant decline in Uganda

However, according to Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum, there is a lack of available statistics in most African countries on women CEOs.

In South Africa the Annual Women in Leadership Census conducted by the South African Business Women’s Association found that women’s share of CEOs in 2012 was 3.6 per cent, which was the same as for 2009 and represented a decline from 4.4 per cent in 2011.

In Lagos state, Nigeria’s largest commercial hub, the private sector participation of women as directors and in Leadership Census 2011 and 2012. in top management has been reported for 2006 as 8.1 per cent and 13.1 per cent respectively.

In Cameroon, a survey of 93,969 enterprises indicated that while 27 per cent of their employees were women only 10 per cent had a female manager and it is “rare to find a female CEO of a large company.”
In the Middle East and North Africa, women increased their share of management jobs by a few percentage points in five of the nine countries for which data were available over time during the last decade. In four countries, the proportion of women in management decreased.

Women on Boards – Africa

In Kenya, women hold 44, or 9.5 per cent, of the 462 board seats of the 55 companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). Twenty-three of the companies – less than half – have women directors, and those with female board members are majority-owned by multinationals.

A 2004 study on “Gender Equality at Board Decision Level in Mauritius” revealed that 23 per cent of women are represented on Mauritian Public Boards (excluding state-owned companies) versus 19 per cent in the private sector.

A document of the Gender Monitoring Office in Rwanda “Gender Baseline and key indicators in four sectors: Decision Making, Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Private Sector, 2011” indicates that women were 12.5 per cent of private sector company board members.

In South Africa, the proportion of board directors of 309 public companies and 20 state owned enterprises who were women increased, from 7.1 per cent in 2004 to 17.1 per cent in 2012. The proportion of board directors was higher at 34.3 per cent for state owned enterprises.

For the latest years for which data were available, the proportion of women who were employers in Africa ranged from a high of 46 per cent in Liberia, followed by 36 per cent in Botswana and Namibia and 34 per cent in Rwanda, to a low of 12 per cent in Mauritius and 14 per cent in Ethiopia. The average for the 18 countries in Africa for which data were available was 23 per cent.

The countries in the African region with the highest percentage of firms with a woman among the principal owners are Cote d’Ivoire (61.9 per cent), Mali (58 per cent), Angola (56.6 per cent) and Zimbabwe (56.2). Madagascar, Liberia, Botswana and Central African Republic all have above 50 per cent. The countries with the lowest percentage of firms with female ownership are Eritrea at 4.2 per cent and Sierra Leone at 7.9 per cent. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Lesotho, Mauritius, Niger and Mauritania ranged between 15 and 20 per cent.

Measures to speed up women’s progress

Getting more women to grow their businesses is not only critical for equality but also for national development, underlines the report.

In Morocco, the Code of Good Practice on Corporate Governance (March 2008) states that management boards should be composed of members who, among other qualities, should provide diversity – training, professional experience, gender balance, age, and nationality.

In Nigeria, women occupy 15 per cent of board seats in commercial banks, according to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) statistics. Through the Banker’s Committee, the CBN has set a mandatory requirement and developed a three-year programme to empower women bankers in the financial system.

In Lesotho, the Local Government Act of 2005 reserves 30 per cent of the seats in local councils for women. As a result of this decision, Lesotho has achieved 58 per cent women’s representation on local councils. In addition, 32 per cent of cabinet Ministers are women.

In Rwanda, of the 80 members of the chamber of deputies, 53 are directly elected and 27 indirectly elected. Of the indirectly elected members, 24 must be women elected by electoral colleges from each Province and the City of Kigali. In the Senate, 30 per cent of the 26 members must be women.

In Sudan, 24 per cent of seats are reserved for women in the lower house while in Somalia, 30 per cent of seats are reserved for women. Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda all have legislated quotas for women in parliament.

The report highlights the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Protocol adopted in 2008 potentially could have an effect on the private sector in the 15 SADC countries, as it requires affirmative action measures to eliminate all barriers preventing women from participating fully in all spheres of life and to create a conducive environment for such participation.

By early 2013 two thirds of the members had ratified the protocol bringing it into force. Gender equity targets set out by the protocol include the achievement of 50 per cent representation by women and men in politics and decision-making in the public and private sectors by 2015.