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International Women’s Day: A Reflective Journey on Women's Progress and Avon's Pioneering Role in the last 25 years

In the lead up to International Women's Day, it is an opportune time to engage in a thoughtful reflection on the strides made and the persistent challenges encountered in the pursuit of gender equality. Avon's recently unveiled 2024 Global Progress for Women Report serves as a catalyst for contemplation, urging us to delve into the nuanced landscape of women's empowerment.

The report, a culmination of extensive research across diverse countries, including the dynamic terrain of South Africa, reveals a disquieting reality: despite concerted efforts, the journey towards equitable opportunities and pay parity for women remains an uphill battle. In certain instances, there is evidence of regression, painting a stark picture of the enduring challenges faced by women in our contemporary society.

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In the South African context, where the resonance of the gender equality struggle is palpable, the statistics are both revealing and thought-provoking. An overwhelming 91% of women perceive a societal bias in favor of men concerning opportunities, be it in the workplace or in educational pursuits. Moreover, over half of the surveyed women observe a tangible gender pay gap between themselves and their male counterparts within similar professional spheres. These statistics, while sobering, act as a clarion call for urgent action to deconstruct systemic barriers and forge a more inclusive societal landscape.

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One poignant avenue towards empowerment unfurls through entrepreneurship. The encouragement of women in venturing into entrepreneurial domains not only diversifies their representation across sectors but also lays down avenues for financial independence and self-determination. Avon, with its enduring commitment to women's empowerment, emerges as a guiding light in this regard.

Avon's business model stands as a unique and adaptive response to these challenges. Over the past 27 years, Avon has been at the vanguard of propelling equality in South Africa, providing women with opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the economy while realizing their untapped potential. Through flexible earning opportunities, Avon empowers women to seize control of their financial destinies, fostering a ripple effect that extends to their confidence, health, and overall well-being.

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The transformative role that Avon has played in supporting women's entrepreneurial journeys is particularly noteworthy. By offering comprehensive training, resources, and a supportive community, Avon equips women with the tools necessary to thrive as entrepreneurs. Whether through direct selling, digital platforms, or the recent foray into retail, Avon facilitates women in building their businesses on their own terms, establishing pathways to economic empowerment and self-sufficiency.

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Undoubtedly, the importance of financial independence cannot be overstated, especially in a country where nearly half of households are led by single women. These women face the added challenge of contending with limited income compared to their male counterparts due to factors such as gender pay gaps, unconscious biases, and marginalisations. The impact of economic empowerment extends far beyond individual livelihoods; it resonates through communities, catalysing positive change and setting the stage for a more inclusive and prosperous society.

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As we reflect on the revelations presented in the 2024 Global Progress for Women Report, let us recommit ourselves to the cause of gender equality. Let us amplify the voices of women, advocate for their rights, and earnestly work towards sculpting a world where every woman has the opportunity to flourish. Together we can weave a future where gender ceases to be a determinant of opportunities or outcomes—a future that gleams with brightness and equity for all.

Written by Nadia Mohamed: Executive Director – General Manager, Avon Justine PTY Ltd

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