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Educating Women Is Crucial For Sustainable Development – Olajumoke Ajayi

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March 11, 2019, Lagos, Nigeria – The Managing Director of Asharami Energy, a Sahara Group Upstream Company, Olajumoke Ajayi has urged regional and global stakeholders to invest in the education of women to ensure they are empowered to take on the critical role of nurturing the leaders of tomorrow.

“Education takes off limits and shatters all manner of ceilings women may come across. It is the bedrock for ensuring global sustainable development as everyone goes through the tutelage of women at various cycles of life. At Sahara, we believe that no effort should be spared in providing support for the education of girls and boys; this should be a global campaign that should be embraced by world and business leaders as well as the civil society,” Ajayi told a gathering of gender parity advocates at an event organized by the United Nations Information Centre and United Nations Association of Nigeria to commemorate the 2019 International Women’s Day.

Supported by Sahara Foundation, the event was designed to encourage women and girls to explore career paths in technology and innovation and also build businesses and make strategic investments towards transforming lives and ensuing economic prosperity.

Olajumoke Ajayi - MD, Asharami Energy photographed with participants
Olajumoke Ajayi (middle) – MD, Asharami Energy photographed with participants at the event

The event commenced with the introductory message from the Director of the United Nations Information Centre, Lagos Dr. Ronald Kayanja who encouraged participants toseek innovative ways of using technology to champion women’s rights and participation in governance and business. “We need to find innovative ways of reimagining and rebuilding our nation so that it works for everyone. There are tasks that women and girls perform today that technology and innovation has made easier and we must ensure that they get access to these tools to improve the quality of life for women everywhere,” Dr. Kayanja said.

The keynote speech was given by Dr Joan Agha, the Executive Director of Joan Agha Foundation who urged the participants to look towards using education and digital technology to empower women and girls. ‘’We live in a patriarchy and we must see the rights of women as our common objective to build a prosperous and inclusive world as we move towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’’

Since inception, Sahara Foundation has implemented its Personal and Corporate Social Responsibilities (PCSR) initiatives in the areas of Health, Education & Capacity Building, Environment and Sustainable Development. Over two million people have benefitted from Sahara Foundation’s projects,  with women and girls accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries. Some of the initiatives include eye care programmes, scholarships, literacy development programmes, career guidance programmes, water & sanitation programmes.

According to the United Nations, about 740 million women currently make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security. Also, one in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind.

The event had a panel session which had Adenike Oyetunde, a media and disability advocate, Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka, the founder of Omaness Skin Care, Dr. Afanu Belinda, a hospitality consultant, Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, the Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Oduwa Ayela-Agboneni founder of Nenis Auto Care to explore how women are using innovation to create wealth and powering the society.

While a little more than a decade remain to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality, all indications show that at the current pace of change, closing the global gender gap will take a staggering 108 years, and 202 years for economic gender parity.

To meet the needs of women and those most marginalized at the bottom of the pyramid, public services, infrastructure and social protection require innovative platforms to increase the quality and affordability for women users.

– SAHARA GROUP

NGOs - SDGs

South Africa and climate change – it’s time to adapt

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SRK’s Environmental scientists, Estie Retief and Ashleigh Maritz. Photography by Jeremy Glyn for SRK in May 2019.

JOHANNESBURG –  Adapting to climate change is about to become much closer to home for South African businesses – as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) initiates moves aimed at making the country more resilient.

While our climate change policy framework has been in development since the early 2000s, there have recently been significant steps forward. These include the release of the draft Climate Change Bill and the Carbon Tax Bill. Last month, the long-awaited National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) was issued for public comment; this type of planning is a key preventative measure.
These instruments carry an important message for business: climate change is happening, and we cannot mitigate all its effects; it is now necessary to adapt – quickly. South Africa ranks high among the world’s most significant carbon emitters per capita; it is therefore appropriate that the country signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change. South Africa agreed to a peak, plateau and decline (PPD) trajectory that will see carbon emissions from fossil fuels (mainly coal) continue rising until 2030 – after which they should level out until 2035 and then start dropping.
The question that is now becoming urgent is, ‘What do we do about these impacts in the meantime?’ Part of the answer is the subject of the NCCAS, which begins to chart a response to the now unavoidable impacts of climate change – many of which have in fact been felt for some years. The country has experienced extreme weather events more often, among them heat waves, longer dry spells and greater rainfall intensity.
According to the NCCAS, climate zones are already shifting, degrading ecosystems and landscapes and placing both terrestrial and marine systems under stress. There is particular concern about how we manage our water resources – by anticipating extreme events like droughts and floods, and addressing the risks they present.
Such a strategy comes not a day too soon, as climate change trends are gaining momentum. In its efforts, the DEA is looking at throwing a wider net in terms of regulatory compliance. Currently, climate change impact assessments are only required in the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) of coal-fired power stations.
South Africa has drafted a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy as part of the range of policy and regulatory responses to the ways that the changing climate will affect the country.
In a recent presentation to a Gauteng branch event of the International Association of Impact Assessment South Africa (IAIASA), officials said they anticipated a broader application of this provision in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether industries like cement, petrochemical, sugar cane, paper and forestry are in the department’s sights.
The country should also be aware that climate change has its greatest impact on the poor, as high unemployment generally translates into low resilience in times of crisis. The NCCAS therefore also encourages social transformation, including this call to action: “Adaptation to climate change presents South Africa with an opportunity to transform the economy, strengthen the social and spatial fabric, and … build a climate resilient society.”
The good news is that there is potential financial support for these transformative initiatives in climate change adaptation from international funders. Infrastructure planners and developers can draw on these resources as they generate solutions to the climate change challenge.
Where the NCCAS may be strengthened is in its language on ongoing mitigation efforts. While climate change adaptation is clearly the necessary focus of the strategy, regulators and players should not take the foot off the mitigation pedal. Where the strategy “encourages” that more be done in mitigating our carbon footprint as a nation, we would suggest that a much firmer commitment is required. Indeed, vulnerability can be decreased through effectively implementing mitigation measures first; the better the mitigation, the less the adaptation required.
As public submissions to the NCCAS closed this week, it is hoped that this strategy will indeed facilitate urgent and integrated action at various levels of government and business. The country has the professional and technical expertise, and a willing spirit; the strategy now gives us more certainty of direction. Time, however, is not on our side.
Ashleigh Maritz and Estie Retief are Environmental Scientists at RK Consulting (SA). 
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NGOs - SDGs

Sahara Group: Inverting Narratives Through Sustainable Development

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Lagos, Nigeria – As a multinational organization, Sahara Group’s partnership with the UN on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an affirmative response to a universal call to action. It is a mandate to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace, self-determination and prosperity.

The SDGs are globally acknowledged as a robust road map for social development. Our foundation exists to ensure that our business activities are underpinned by sustainable development actions both now and in the future. Sahara Foundation works consistently with Sahara Group to ensure that the SDGs are intrinsic to and influence the strategy for every one of our businesses.

SDGs are good for commercial operations and sustainability is important to the process design, strategy, succession planning and viability of any organization.

Incorporating the SDGs into our businesses gives us the capacity to thrive as a sustainability driven going concern today, whilst also laying the foundations by which the engines of our success are fully functioning in the future.

University of Juba ICT Center
University of Juba ICT Center rehabilitated by Sahara Foundation

Our work as a steward for sustainability with Vision of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia and Pugu Secondary School in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania are just two examples of how we partner to provide capacity building opportunities to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Goals 3 (Good Health and Well Being) and 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) are central to our work with Vision of Hope. By providing access to health care and sanitation and building an industrial size kitchen which allows for large scale cooking in sanitary conditions we are able to create an environment in which the young denizens and the adults who look after them are well fed and well nurtured.

We also partner assiduously to achieve goal 4 (Quality Education) by providing the means and a space for a formal education.

Vision of Hope has become a safe space and a social sanctuary for girls from as young as ten months to eighteen years. It enables young mothers go to school or take up an apprenticeship in arts and craft whilst their infants and toddlers are looked after during those important educational or vocational hours.

Over the years, it has become apparent that the underscoring of a successful partnership is the ability to identify gaps in social development, align with capable collaborators and deftly combining resources to fill those gaps in a manner that is timely and via sustainable means and methods.

At Pugu Secondary the foundation has been able to shift the narrative positively by working in concert with the local community on gender equality and quality education. This partnership has bridged the gender equality gap by giving female students access to restroom facilities that enable them have uninterrupted time in school thus furthering their education and improving their life chances.

Library at Pugu Secondary School, Tanzania upgraded by Sahara Foundation
Library at Pugu Secondary School, Tanzania upgraded by Sahara Foundation

Also Read Take a Girl Child to Work Day campaign kicks off

Prior to installation of new toilet facilities a lot of young girls were unable to attend classes during their menstrual cycles because there were no conveniences designed to accommodate them. This lowered the attendance rates of female students whilst their male counterparts continually enjoyed the social advantages of a steady education.

The conveniences provided have significantly narrowed the gap by improving female classroom attendance across the year and leveling the playing field for these bright young girls as they grow into adolescence.

Our work as a partner on social development is effective largely because of the opportunity to work with a rich network of international multilateral agencies. As a member of the board of both local and global PSAGs (Private Sector Advisory Groups) and a strategic partnership with the office of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations we are able to work with NGOs, governments and the private sector to design solutions for some of the most urgent challenges to global sustainable development.

Executive Director, Sahara Group Temitope Shonubi signing the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP to Promote Sustainable Energy and SDGs in Africa.
Executive Director, Sahara Group Temitope Shonubi signing the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP to Promote Sustainable Energy and SDGs in Africa.

Additionally, as a steering committee member of the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) of the World Economic Forum we are working to design corruption out of the societies and countries in which it is impeding economic growth and the creation of generational wealth. Our work with PACI has allowed us to address goals 8(Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) across various borders and business interests.

The inexorable spread of globalization has also increased awareness about the importance of preserving the planet and being accountable for our individual and collective actions as global citizens.

More will be demanded of businesses by regulators, host communities, governments and employees. Businesses which espouse corporate citizenship and predicate decisions based on a social purpose will rightly be rewarded with patronage from socially conscious consumers.

Sahara is gratified to utilize its agency and partner with a cross section of multiple stakeholders (Goal 17: Partnerships to achieve the goal) in identifying gaps, bridging them and inverting negative narratives on the state of global sustainable development now and in future.

 

Credit: Sahara Group

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NGOs - SDGs

Take a Girl Child to Work Day campaign kicks off

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700 organisations have signed up to participate in the Take a Girl Child to Work Day initiative including the Office of the Presidency and the Public Protector. Photo: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN – On Thursday, thousands of girls across the country gained valuable first-hand work experience while participating in the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day® (TAGCTWD).

The initiative motivates and empowers young girls to reach their career goals and inspires the next generation of women leaders in South Africa.

“Through this campaign, we want to ensure that girls understand their potential and are given real insight into a range of careers. We hope to enhance their self-esteem and guide them in reaching their career goals because gender equality means that they should enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of South Africa,” said Cell C managing executive for corporate social investment, Suzette van der Merwe.

Real-life work experience can play a big role in helping young learners choose their career paths. The Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day® aims to show them there is a wide variety to choose from, and it also serves to help guide the girls on the steps they need to take to achieve their dreams.

This year’s theme, #MoreThanADay, promotes the concept that one day is not enough to help motivate and support school-going girls. As such, Cell C has dedicated three days in the year to this programme – 30 May, 26 July and 30 August.

The themes for the three days are:

  • Day 1 – Inspirational workshop: Girls with dreams become women with vision & an opportunity for host organisations to introduce their business career opportunities.
  • Day 2 – #WhoAmI: This is a self-discovery journey. Learners will explore their strengths, future aspirations and complete CellCgirl’s career interest test. Organisations will unpack their departments & career opportunities.
  • Day 3 – #EmpowerYourself – Learners will be taught how to use their resources, including CellCgirl’s CV creator, free downloads, etc. and job shadow their chosen career path.

This year, 700 organisations have signed up to participate in the initiative including the Office of the Presidency and the Public Protector.

“We are humbled by the number of organisations that have taken this campaign to heart and given their support to help make it a success. We would like thank all participants for opening their doors and giving their time to these young learners,” says Van Der Merwe.

Regarded as one of South Africa’s largest collaborative acts of volunteerism, Cell C’s Take a Girl Child To Work Day® has become meaningful to girls across the country as it is a crucial time in their lives when they have to decide on a career journey. Previously, the initiative was aimed at girls between Grade 10 and 12 but this year, for the first time, Cell C has extended the programme to include girls in Grade 8 and 9 as well. This is because Grade 8 is technically the initial point at which children choose their core school subjects, which sets them on their respective career path.

“For those learners who are not able to participate face-to-face, we have provisions for them. They can always get involved through the online version of the campaign,” says Van Der Merwe.

Follow the conversation by using #MoreThanADay and #GirlChild2019

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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