Since inception, South Africa’s public holiday on 9 August, Women’s Day has highlighted issues our women face for a day. The topic of women soon branched out to become the talking point for an entire month.

 

Soon enough discussion and debate turned into action and a few progressive South African organisations embedded the concept of female empowerment into its organisational culture and psyche in such a way that it is now a part of their (work) life.

 

Janice Bassa, the Distribution Business Manager at Intel South Africa, believes her company’s empowerment policies provides for a great work life balance. “As the mother of a six year old I deal with the demands of knowing I am the only breadwinner in our family. Then to juggle illness, school, day care and extracurricular activities in between regularly disturbs the balance. Luckily I am fortunate to be in a position where my employer and management understand this juggling game and supports me with programs and flexibility to ensure I am productive all around.”

 

“Not only is working flexi time a huge advantage but simply being a woman working for a technology giant like Intel in a digital age helps tremendously to achieve that ever-elusive balanced life at work and home. The backbone of my career is the fact that I can be connected to the Intel office from my laptop or smart phone from any location – home, car or the sports field.”

 

Ntokozo Ncongwane, Intel South Africa’s Market Development Manager, agrees with Janice: “We share an inside joke between colleagues that work is what we do, not where we are. To be able to do my work from any remote location allows this mother of two energetic girls the flexibility to structure my work around my family life.”

 

Intel retail intern, Diketso Makhutle explains that, for her, the technology sector is an exciting entry place to start off her career. “From an intern’s point of view it is evident that the company’s policies aim to equalise motherhood and work life as far as possible.  I watch how the majority of Intel employees who are women (and men) with a family seem to juggle work and home...and it seems effortlessly.

 

“When I questioned these colleagues about how they keep it up, there was a general consensus that pride creates a good work ethic, and good work is rewarded equally with trust from management across gender lines.”

 

“Being a technology woman today is so exciting. Being able to thrive intellectually, to inspire and live out your passions is an easy feat. If you have passion, a door will be there, ready to walk through,” says Janice who also credits being surrounded by many, many intelligent women (and men) as a breeding ground for continuous learning. For instance, Intel offers its employees The Development Opportunity Tool – short-term assignments designed to provide employees with confidence and the know-how to handle daily work place experiences and grow their careers at the same time. 

Other courses such as Career Development and Strategic Thinking in particular have filled female employees like Diketso and Ntokozo with enthusiasm to be able to create their future and drive change in the company on an equal footing as their male counterparts.

 

For so long women were not encouraged to think outside the box. In fact, to not think at all. Today, Ntokozo feels valued because she can express her ideas and opinions freely at work. And she is trusted to implement her ideas.

 

Ntokozo says the development mindset is evident for her when she noticed how the four female interns Intel employs on an annual basis have been absorbed into a decision-making, corporate environment. Interns are exposed to all parts of the organisation and are pushed to execute ideas under the encouragement of their managers. This is echoed by Diketso: “Sometimes managers come to me for assistance on tasks they know I do well or on new ideas they want to bounce off me. To be seen as a ‘go-to’ person makes me feel like I am actively and positively contributing to my company’s success.”

 

“Even after three years I still love what I do,” says Ntokozo. “This alone has made it easy to over-achieve in my job and still be able to devote quality time to other things that matters in my life - my family and my personal development as a woman.”

By Videsha Proothveerajh, South Africa’s country manager at Intel Corporation

 

Today we live in a world where information and communication technologies (ICT) are being used at an increasing rate to improve teaching and learning outcomes in our schools and tertiary institutions. But as we celebrate Women’s Day, the question we must ask is whether these new tools are making the full impact that they can in the lives of disadvantaged girls and women in South Africa.

 

There’s no doubt that women are increasingly asserting their rights to education and meaningful work in the new South Africa. Despite these massive strides, though, women still lag behind. Nearly 20 years after the dawn of democracy in this country, many girls and young women still battle to complete their education and to gain the skills needed to secure safe work in a competitive environment.

 

Even where women have caught up in education and employment, they often still earn significantly less than men, and are more likely to live in poverty. In many cases, this leaves them vulnerable to social ills like sexual and workplace exploitation, poor health, HIV infection, domestic abuse and even trafficking.

 

So what do we need to do? For a start, it’s critical that we work more closely than ever with private sector donors and government to ramp up access to high quality and relevant education, which helps our young women meet the challenges of the 21st century.

 

These challenges go way beyond basic schooling and computer literacy. Right now, the key challenge we face is equipping our youth – especially girls – with relevant life and work skills that can help them gain secure employment, forge meaningful livelihoods, reduce their vulnerability, and ultimately put an end to the cycle of disadvantage.

 

Meeting this challenge includes revamping curricula to include workplace skills and the use of new technologies. Make no mistake, putting technology in schools alone is not some magic silver bullet that will fix our educational challenges overnight. But it’s a critical building block in driving education transformation.

 

The great thing about technology is that it provides the tools needed to enhance teaching and learning and support student-centred learning environments. It provides access to information and content experts. Encourages collaboration and creation. Improves communication. Most importantly, it allows students to gain important skills using the same modern technology they’ll encounter in today’s increasingly connected world.

 

For this technology to make a difference, though, we need to ensure that our teachers become more effective educators by learning to integrate technology into their lessons – thereby promoting problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills among their students. That’s why empowering teachers is a cornerstone of Intel’s global education efforts.

 

But even once we’ve integrated technology into classrooms in a way that engages girls with life and work skills and keeps them in school, bigger challenges remain. We need to drive changes in societal attitudes towards girls’ education, so that it becomes just as important for a girl to finish school as for a boy. We must create a network of support systems and role models that give young women a roadmap to succeed. Only then will we be able to say that we are really closing the gap for girls and women.

Individuality, self-expression and exhibitionism are all fuelling the runaway growth of social networking.  The concept of ‘brand-me’ has emerged, with people using online platforms to manage and create extensions of their real world personas, or brands. Intel , with its Express Yourself Visibly Smart-campaign, is tapping into this collective energy and rich tapestry of content and creativity by crowdsourcing individuals at every level of society to express themselves at Express Yourself .

 

Head of Marketing at Intel South Africa, Ntombezinhle Modiselle, says the company’s new Express Yourself Visibly Smart-campaign lends itself seamlessly to the collective online creation process that crowdsourcing provides. “2nd generation Intel Core processing technologies have diminished the gap between professionals and amateurs. A visibly smart processor means a more responsive system and built-in visual capabilities, bridging the gap between beginners and pro’s. We decided to take advantage of the talent out there and provide South Africans with the canvass to share the way they express themselves through art.”

 

“With that said, Express Yourself allows the public to interactively share their art in the form of photographs, illustrations, music or video clips, paintings, inspirational stories and poetry as part of a community and win a VIP trip to Jo’burg Fashion Week,” Ms Modiselle explains. “Intel provides the engine which powers your personal computer’s performance, but real people remain the drivers of creativity. The 2nd generation Intel Core processor family makes for a fast, responsive and visually stunning PC – a smoother experience for people of all abilities.”

 

The Express Yourself-campaign encapsulates individualism through mass collaboration. “As a country characterised by a diverse cultural mix of people, we’re hoping to unearth and showcase content that weaves together technology and beauty. That beauty can be amplified via design, fashion, poetry, writing, painting, recording – as long as it is smart, seamless and stunning creativity,” Ms Modiselle explains. “We anticipated the overwhelming positive response to our call for creativity and added an online creator tool which allows collaborators to create on the spot.”

 

“Collaborators can even browse, ‘test-drive’ and purchase the perfect 2nd generation Intel Core processing device to reflect that self-expression,” Ms Modiselle says. “The vast options of processing technologies available, afford endless opportunities to create realities where images are sharper, colour richer, sound crisper, speed unprecedented and response more immediate than ever before, expressing the ‘brand-me’ visibly smarter.”

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