Empowering Women in South African Health


Date: 02 August 2016

Hashtag: #hcsmSA
Symplur Transcript


Video credit: UN Women 

In celebration of National South African Women’s Day on the 9th of August 2016, we will discuss the significance of women in terms of their contribution to growing a sustainable economy and its relation to healthcare.

According to UN Women, the following list is an outline of the targets we need to achieve for
gender equality by 2030:

  1. End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  2. Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
  3. Eliminate all harmful practices, such as a child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  4. Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
  5. Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
  6. Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
  7. Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources.
  8. Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
  9. Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

Gender equality and women empowerment is a diverse topic. There are scores of challenges that need to be addressed and technology alone is not enough to ensure that we reach our sustainable goals by 2030. As a nation, we need to reconstruct our stifled way of thinking about our country, our women and our health systems. We need our policymakers, corporates and private sector to demonstrate their commitment to our economy by taking action from the ground-level and we need to support those dedicated citizens who are trying to make a difference now. We must not only focus on empowering our broader female communities but also on women as individual people. Creative ideas should not be criticised as a tool to cultivate solutions, they must be encouraged. Entrepreneurship, co-action, social inclusion and participation must be promoted to build our future economy and more.

In a global report titled the “Business of Empowering Women” compiled by McKinsey & Company, the authors present a compelling case about the private sector and why it should intensify its engagement in the economic empowerment of women in developing countries by stating that “Economically empowered women create healthier and more productive societies. Gains in health, nutrition, security, and safety help form the basis for improving women’s status in developing countries and emerging markets. But their economic empowerment creates a multiplier effect that rapidly benefits not just women themselves, but also their entire societies.”

During our 60-minute Twitter chat, we will explore these ideas further with our panel expert.

Shariefa Allie-Nieftagodien
Gauteng Regional Director for the Inspiring Women Network


I have the privilege of connecting with women in numerous areas of my life.  Some are friends, some are fellow runners, some are employees, some are colleagues, some are underprivileged and some are clients. Each of them has their story to tell and a diverse view of health.

Our unique interpretations will determine how we approach the application of a healthy lifestyle. This understanding of diversity is critical to how we educate and uplift our communities.

For example, from a corporate and fundraising perspective, the TotalSports Women’s Day race is a running event which is attempted by thousands of women from all walks of life on the 9th of August around South Africa.  A healthy lifestyle is promoted on the day and prominence is given to Breast Cancer and proceeds are donated to an NPO called The Pink Drive. There are live demonstrations to show women how to exercise and stay healthy as well as to check for vital signs of Cancer. The impact an event like this could have on the health sector is significant, especially if those thousands of women pass the knowledge on to others in their immediate circles or use it in their own development initiatives, creating a ripple effect.

In terms of e-Health, perhaps events like this are an opportunity to promote wearables or various technology so that public education about the potential of our data takes place much sooner? Again, perhaps creating a ripple effect.

In terms of rural settings, a coalition to improve access to basic health services sounds more realistic, but most times funding is necessary to achieve this?  The important thing to remember is that every circumstance, including the most vulnerable, will require a collaborative, innovative and holistic approach.

In December 2011, the United Nations declared the 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child The day promotes human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys – Watch the SABC TV interview with Shariefa.

Please start your answers with T1, T2, T3 or CT for transcript

T1: What qualities do women have that make them valuable contributors to the economy?
(e.g. They form coalitions and communities, they are purpose-driven)

T2: What do you think are the biggest issues of gender equality and women empowerment?

T3: What can be done to achieve this goal for our health sector?
(e.g. corporates can invest in community projects, events, skills development programs)

CT: What closing thoughts do you have?

hcsmSA will be participating in the Totalsports women’s day 5-10 km race with Shariefa Allie-Nieftagodien and 25 other women from the Inspiring Women NetworkSharfa and Dignity Dreams.



On the 5th – 8th December, we also look forward to moderating an e-Health panel and presenting a social media workshop at the Women Advancement Forum.