Thought Leadership

Women Making An Impact – The W in the Social aspect of ESG

Women Making An Impact – The W in the Social aspect of ESG

As we close off the International Women’s Month, it is important to reflect on the incredible representation, work and impact of women on environmental, society and governance issues.

Women have been making an impact in every aspect of life, from politics to businesses to driving social change. Despite facing numerous challenges and obstacles, women have shown their resilience and determination to succeed and make a difference.

In recent years, women have been increasingly taking on leadership roles. It has been said that, when a woman breaks a glass ceiling, she opens the way for other women because they now see her path as something that is possible and attainable.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Johnson, nicknamed the Iron Lady of Africa, was the president of Liberia from 2006-2018. Her presidency focused on rebuilding Liberia’s economy and infrastructure after years of civil war and political instability. During her tenure, Liberia passed several laws aimed at addressing gender-based violence and women empowerment. I find that powerful because women tend to suffer a lot under the existing systems without much help. Fighting gender-based discrimination becomes much more effective if it driven by a policy.

Fighting for gender equality and women empowerment is frowned upon in certain places because humans would rather not change the status quo. It is more comfortable to leave things as they are. We should be intentional about empowering women and bringing them to leadership roles because this will help us address our social imbalances and achieve positive long-term impact.

In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first female vice-president of the United States, shattering one glass ceiling for all the women who will come after her.

I recently attended a #Dream Bigger Summit that was directed to women of stature. It is important for women to have big dreams of what we would like to achieve, but sometimes our dreams are limited by what we know or by previous facts and data. We should be aiming for higher achievements and changes. Don’t hold back on pushing for something that has never been done before. If you dream big, the resulting impact will even be greater.

Back home in South Africa, we have women breaking ground in industries where women have historically been under-represented.

Aviation – Asnath Mahapa

She made history when she became the first black female commercial pilot in South Africa.

No doubt she had to break a lot of barriers to be where she is now. She had to fight a rigid system and man-made barriers that discouraged women from dreaming of attaining bigger things than women could usually attain. Asnath is actively involved in promoting aviation as a career option for women and people from underprivileged backgrounds. She saw the importance of lifting others as she rises.

Farming – Nonhlanhla Joye

She is the founder of Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute.

Ma’Joye, as she is affectionately known in her community. She aims to promote sustainable farming practices and food security in South Africa, and has been actively involved in educating and empowering women farmers across the country. According to, she boldly says, ”My aim is to end hunger.” In effect, she adopted UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: End Hunger

Mining – Daphne Mashile-Nkosi

She is a mining entrepreneur who founded Kalagadi Manganese, a company that operates a manganese mine in the Northern Cape province.

Among her many accolades, she received international nomination as the Most Outstanding Woman in Businessin 2015. She has been involved in various community development projects and is a strong advocate for women empowerment. She is also a strong activist on gender issues, and encourages businesses to improve the quality of life in poor communities and to nurture woman entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Women and ESG

When it comes to the environmental, social and governance elements of business, women have an essential role to play, because their inclusion and participation can have a significant positive impact on society as a whole. Women are often disproportionately affected by social issues such as inequality, poverty, and lack of access to education, training and financial support. Many of these challenges can be eased by putting women in the forefront of leadership. They know how to tackle those challenges because they have experienced them at first hand. Studies have shown thatcompanies with more women in leadership positions tend to be more diverse and innovative, and to have better financial performance.

While there is still work to be done to achieve true equality, the examples set by these women show that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves and work together to make a difference. When women achieve success and reach their full potential, they serve as role models for other women and girls, inspiring them to dream bigger dreams and pursue their own goals.

The women mentioned in this article are just a few examples of how women have shattered the glass ceiling and demonstrated that women can be effective leaders and make a long-lasting impact. Their achievements have inspired countless others to follow in their footsteps and to fight for gender equality and women empowerment.