PRIVATE companies without women as directors and executive managers will soon face penalties, President Jacob Zuma said on Women’s Day.
He said government would also be amending the Employment Equity Act to bring about equal pay for work of equal value between sexes.
Addressing thousands of women who had gathered at the Union Buildings lawns in Pretoria, Zuma said representation of women at top management level in the public sector remained "inadequate”.
He had directed Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana to speed up the Gender Equality Bill in order to enforce gender parity measures across all sectors of society.
"The census reveals that although there is a slight increase in the employment of women in top executive positions, this increase is minimal.
"What is more disturbing is that there are still companies that have a zero percentage of women representation as directors and executive managers,” Zuma said.
Experience had shown that "voluntary mechanisms of gender equality are inadequate”.
Zuma said his ANC-led government administration had increased the number of women at both national and provincial level. There were 14 cabinet ministers and 15 deputy ministers, while five out of nine premiers were women.
Despite these achievements at government level, improving the gender balance remained slow in the corporate boardrooms, Zuma said.
Newly elected African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma joined thousands yesterday in honouring the role played by women across the country.
The ANC Women’s League said patriarchy still affected society, "threatening to undermine the huge gains made by women”.
"These gains and equalities need to go beyond the paper they are printed on and filter down to women on the ground,” the league said.
Zuma said last year’s report of the Commission for Employment Equity indicated more work needed to be done to improve the representation of people with disabilities at top and senior management levels in both the private and public sectors.
The Women’s Day celebrations kicked off with the unveiling of the women’s memorial site at Lillian Ngoyi Square in central Pretoria. Ngoyi was one of the leaders of the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings. A R108-million multi-purpose centre will be built on the site.