[SPONSORED] Inspirational South Africans can drive economic progress

As South Africa looks to unlock the secret to inclusive growth, it is clear that fundamental components to achieving this must be the empowerment, recognition and understanding of the diverse groups of people that live in our country, writes Asif Hoosen, Head of Product and Marketing, Audi South Africa.

To drive progress in South Africa that is beneficial to all, it is imperative that we break down barriers of race, ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, mental and physical health. This must be done in conjunction with a strong commitment to demonstrate the importance of their roles and contributions in society, which in turn, will ignite the bravery and the desire for South Africans to strive for the best, despite obstacles.

It would be naïve to say that these socio-economic barriers will be easily overcome, because progress requires far-reaching structural and cultural changes.

If one looks at gender inequality, The World Economic Forum points out that this disparity is improving quite slowly. In 2016, gender inequality in the global economy reverted to where it stood in 2008. By some measures, women’s economic empowerment is moving backwards!

But, the collective changes to the fortunes of women start with the personal. Women are inspired to achieve, to work harder, to demand more, when they see strong role models achieving success. However, it is equally important to define success as non-stereotypical. Becoming an academic, a businessperson or an activist are not the only marks of success. Rather, success means doing your personal best, achieving what you put your mind to and realising that the world is your oyster, and an anchor to personal freedom.

In line with this, Audi South Africa had partnered with Marie Claire on South Africa’s first ever Power Summit and on the Future Shapers initiative. The Marie Claire Power Summit 2018 focused on women and gender equality, career, business and activism, and left participants feeling motivated and empowered. Audi’s partnership with Marie Claire Future Shapers celebrated passionate women who want to make a difference in our country and to improve their lives and the lives of others.

It is worth acknowledging some of these exponents of human excellence; the trailblazers who are shattering glass ceilings, while driving personal progress. Only through creating opportunities to profile these individuals to fellow South Africans, will we create collective momentum to move our country forward.

The face of the Audi Q2 “#untaggable” campaign, Thando Hopa, inspired South Africans to be authentic and unapologetically themselves. The model, lawyer and actress faced many hurdles in her career, but used them to create conversations about albinism, prejudice and beauty. She challenged conventions, and her resilience and strength of character sent a clear message that anyone can succeed without being stereotyped.

Forging ahead will mean serving South Africa at large. South Africans, like Thando, are helping to set social trends to support those who have been discriminated against, so that more people can reach the pinnacle of fields from where they were previously excluded.

When South Africans start putting these inspirational learnings into practice, our country will start to contribute towards economic progress in new ways. We need an economic realignment that allows all people to contribute to society to the best of their ability. We need work conditions and opportunities to be decent, secure and equal. We need those who never had a voice to be heard, to be recognised.

Sadly, we still have a long way to go before achieving this level of equality. Until we get there, it will be the effort of all South Africans, both men and women of our country, who lead the way in demonstrating that progress can be achieved despite the odds. May we continue to find inspiring South Africans who will motivate and inspire all of us.