Authored by: Kantha Naicker, Chairman, SAIPA Board
On 8 March, we celebrated International Women’s Day, an annual and global holiday to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. We also recognise the value of Women’s History Month, a period originally observed just in the United States, over the month of March that has now slowly spread across the world, where the outstanding accomplishments of women throughout history are recognised.
As a progressive professional body, SAIPA is committed to promoting those values that honour women as equal and respected members of society, especially within the accountancy profession. The profession globally has seen a seismic jump in gender parity with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Board celebrating its first-ever female-majority Board and the Pan African Federation (PAFA) Board celebrating 40% of its Board being female.
Although we still have much to do to balance the scales, we are proud of what we have already accomplished within SAIPA. As many female accountants as males now take and pass the Institute’s professional evaluation exam and we can be boastful of the 48% female full members. Our board comprises 48% of women members. And we are one of the few professional bodies led by a female chairperson.
Being that chairperson, women often ask me what it takes to achieve such an important position. I answer that I honestly cannot say. I am an ordinary woman, business owner and mom who simply tries to bring my authentic self to everything I do. I am driven by my passion to make a difference and believe that women are not only deserving of the same rights afforded men but also those rights that their unique concerns, needs and circumstances demand.
I mention this because, if there is one thing the world lacks, it is women leaders. Yet, many of you reading this do not see yourself as leaders. You are held back by the perception that it takes something special. It does not. Anyone can do it. You can do it.
While it’s good to recognise those women, who achieved great things in history, there’s a danger that we see them as so remarkable, we could never dream of living up to their accomplishments. We don’t need more women leaders we can look up to and aspire to be like. Instead, we need to be the leaders we want to follow.
So, my message to you today – and every day after – is to take your rightful place. Do not wait to be inspired by other women. Rather, take the lead and let other women be inspired by you. And a word of advice: ignore the naysayers and focus on people who really support you.
The more women who answer the call and take up leadership roles, the greater the impact we will have in shaping an inclusive and equitable reality. One where the influence of women can be seen in a more caring, understanding, and supportive society. When you create a difference in someone’s life, you not only impact their life, but you also impact everyone influenced by them throughout their lifetime. No act is ever too small. One by one this is how we can make the ocean rise.