Strategic Leadership Programme

The IWFSA Strategic Leadership Programme (SLP) is specifically aimed at young women in senior management positions with the purpose of grooming them to become in-house agents of change and implementation drivers. The value of the Programme lies in the partnership between the IWFSA and the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences (GIBS) as well as the Fellow’s access to South Africa’s top women leaders. The 12-month, part-time Programme has a unique balance between carefully selected academic input and IWFSA-backed interventions.

Young Leaders Connect

The Young Leaders Connect (YLC) was formally launched on 13 September 2011 in Sandton, Johannesburg, and Ms Nobuntu Webster elected as the first President of the organisation.

YLC is an initiative of IWFSA, and was an outcome of the Executive Development Roundtable hosted by IWFSA and the International Women’s Forum (IWF).

According to YLC National Chairperson Ms Nobuntu Webster, “The YLC’s purpose is to connect rising women leaders across South Africa, the continent and globally; to create an enabling environment for young women to exchange ideas, learn from and inspire each other; to nurture and capacitate emerging women leaders to feed into the pipeline of future women leaders and to promote inter-generational exchange and mentorship.”

The YLC Steering Committee currently consists of Ms Webster, Dr Nono Ledwaba-Mweli (Vice Chairperson), Ms Masingita Mazibuko (Secretary), Ms Votelwa Ntondini (Treasurer) and Ms Amanda Breytenbach, Ms Versha Rowjee and Ms Karabo Rapoo (Committee Members).

The event brought together young leaders and members of the IWFSA including representatives from the global IWF to create opportunities for leadership development and the sharing of ideas. The presence of the then global President Allison Gibson, along with the past-President of IWF global and other global leaders from different countries, added to the quality of the events.

At the closing ceremony IWF President Gibson and Dr Namane Magau (then President of IWFSA) proposed that young leaders in South Africa be linked to those in the USA and the Bahamas. Dr Vuyo Mahlati was asked to take the matter forward, and through working with the young leaders she conceptualised Young Leaders Connect and developed it into a vibrant platform for linking our future leaders.

As a result of the vibrancy of the attendees at the IWF Executive Development Roundtable, in August 2010 IWFSA created the Young Leaders Connect for rising leaders to further promote sharing and linkages amongst fellow emerging women leaders, ultimately extending beyond the borders of South Africa.

In line with the IWF’s vision of building global alliances for development of leadership, then IWF Global Ambassador Ms Esther Bush attended the event representing IWF President Gibson. The members had come together following the three events that had been hosted by the YLC Planning Committee led by Ms Webster and the support and sponsorship of Dr Mahlati.

The focus of the conference was to present the vision, goals and structures of the YLC, and most of all to create a platform for the YLC to share their ideas with the broader IWFSA membership, and to identify ways to strengthen their common agenda of achieving the “2020 African Women’s Decade” goals.

The Africa Decade Project

On 21 September 2009 the International Women’s Forum of South Africa (IWFSA) in partnership with Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) hosted a Colloquium of Women Directors. This attracted attention and mobilised both state and private agencies into action for the diversity of corporate directors.

On 11 November 2010 Dr Vuyo Mahlati (current IWFSA President) participated in the 2nd Global Roundtable on Board Diversity hosted by CWDI and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington DC. Her topic was “Reviewing Legislative Mandates: Do Quotas Work?”

The Project therefore aims to facilitate dialogues with key partners to define the agenda for the promotion of corporate diversity, increased labour force participation, particularly in decision-making positions and wage inequality. Norway is one of the leading countries in terms of the WEF Gender Equality Gap as well as CWDI. Study tours by selected South African women to Norway will form part of agenda development. The intention is to study the enabling environment for success, structures and systems for gender mainstreaming.

To ensure engagement in the Africa Decade Project process and to engender the New Growth Path, IWFSA together with partners is facilitating dialogue sessions and research towards sector strategies for women empowerment. This process is aimed at contributing towards inclusive growth and placing gender equality at the centre of South Africa’s Vision and Development Plan.

On 21 September 2010 IWFSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for knowledge management and capacity building related to women leadership development.

This followed the launch of the African Women Leaders Survey, an innovative research project on women leadership development within the African continent. This was in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from Absa. The research was conducted by Frontier Advisory. Through this proposal IWFSA aims to develop a corporate leadership and women economic empowerment strategy with a sustainable system that defines and annually monitors Women Leadership and Participation in the Economy.