According to a new report, one in every four corporate board member in Africa is a woman. This is according to the gender parity report from the McKinsey Global Institute released yesterday. The news which came as a surprise to many big corporate industry players and professionals worldwide is a reflection of how far African nations have gone to embrace gender equality at the corporate level.
McKinsey Global Institute further revealed in their report that as a result of placing so many women at the board of corporate companies in the continent, Africa now surpasses Europe, Asia, and America incorporate gender parity.
In its report, Bloomberg highlights the surprise of the feat. It highlights the fact that Africa deserves credit for the report despite being a continent blighted by the world's highest maternal mortality rate.
You will agree that the continent has scant legal protection for women and very little representation in government. The continent, however, beats all other regions globally in the proportion of females on company boards.
Perhaps, this is the reason behind the success of many African corporate and the government should take a cue from the achievements by creating spaces for more women in governance.
The report reveals that in Africa, one in four board members are female. That's better than second-placed Europe at 23% and well ahead of global laggard Latin America at 7%.
According to a report on gender parity released by the McKinsey Global Institute on Tuesday, the world average for female representation on boards is 17%. Representation on executive committees in Africa is lower than on boards, at 22%, but above the global average of 21%.
Still, the advance has been led by progress in only a handful of African nations and women disproportionately occupy leadership roles in human resources and legal departments. Jobs that are seen as less likely to lead to the position of chief executive officer, McKinsey said in the report titled 'The Power of Parity - Advancing women's equality in Africa.'
"A number of reality checks are necessary," McKinsey said. "Only a relatively small number of economies -- namely Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa -- have made headway."
The report highlighted that African women are far more disadvantaged outside the workplace, with significant inequality in their role in society and the legal protection available to them.
"Africa has not done a good job of providing essential services such as health care and education," McKinsey said. "The continent has the world's highest rates of maternal mortality and unmet need for family planning in the world."
The equality of women's and men's rights is only enshrined in law in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda. High levels of violence against women are also prevalent.
Even so, the picture is a mixed one, reflecting a range of experiences across a continent with 54 nations and more than one billion people.
"Countries in southern Africa perform relatively well on women's education and also have a low incidence of child marriage," McKinsey said. "This is not the case in West and Central Africa."
Across all measures in the 39 African countries that McKinsey could obtain data for, South Africa, with a gender parity score of 0.76, is the best place to be a woman. Niger is the worst, with a score of 0.45. Complete parity would be a score of 1. Out of the five top-scoring nations, only one, Rwanda wasn't in southern Africa.
That implies economic performance: By denying women equal rights, African countries are limiting their growth potential. If all countries matched South Africa's level of parity by 2025, the continental economy would be 10%, or $316 billion, larger, McKinsey said.
Still, at the current pace of progress, complete gender parity in Africa will only be reached in 142 years.
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