A Women’s Day message from SAIPA Chairperson, Prem Govender

National Women’s Day is an annual reminder to take stock of the progress that we have made as women – this invariably starts with reflection. When I look back, I am reminded of how far we have come as women in the accountancy profession and as professionals in general. While Women’s Day was established primarily as a tribute to the brave ladies who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 to protest against women being subjected to the pass laws, it has also come to symbolise the strength, resilience and courage in every single one of us.

For those of us who were bold enough to break the barriers and enter the largely male dominated world of accountancy, we had no idea then that we were carving a path for future generations; a path that now sees us almost equal in number to our male counterparts. At a recent strategy meeting undertaken by a large corporate, I was delighted to see that the majority of the sessions were led by women – strong, bold, powerful women – from the CFO to the marketing executive and many other roles in between. We were treated to well-thought-out, well-researched and compelling presentations that left us in no doubt about the financial health and the sustainability of the company. I sat in awe and admiration and again gave thanks for how well women have embraced opportunities and what a difference we can make – and are making – not just to our profession, but to society and the world at large.

SAIPA’s staff and membership is filled with both women and men who exemplify the immense value provided by accountancy professionals throughout government, academia, and business. The history of our institution is filled with trailblazing women who paved the way and men who supported their advancement and welcomed the diversification of our profession. Learning the difficult lessons from them and continuing the journey will be the most appropriate way of honouring women.

However, while we emulate them and continue their legacy, we must become role models ourselves and the best way to do this is to conduct ourselves both ethically and with integrity both in our professional and personal lives. Let each and every one of us use opportunities we get to coach, mentor and encourage young women to join our noble profession. Let us behave in a manner that will attract more bright young women to become the accountancy professionals of tomorrow, today, be it as accountants, auditors or tax professionals.

My message to all our members is to use this month dedicated to women to reflect on how and where we can make a difference in the lives of others, both within and outside of the workplace. Let’s put back into the communities we serve, after all doing pro bono deeds is one of the hallmarks of our profession and a meaningful way to begin cementing our legacy.

Happy Women’s Day, here’s to us!