A message from the GWII president this Women’s Day’

In celebration of Women’s Month, FAnews on behalf of Gauteng Women in Insurance (GWII) spoke to Catherine Pienaar, President of GWII, about her message of inspiration for the GWII women this Women’s Day.

2021… taking a toll on our roles

“The year 2021 is shaping up to not be dissimilar to 2020, in that the pandemic is still impacting our lives to a great extent – not only are there restrictions being placed upon us, but there is a great deal of fear given the increased number of infections, and also, the loss of family, friends, colleagues and industry peers to the virus. It is with great sadness that we learn of those that succumbed to the virus, and our condolences go out to their loved ones,” said Pienaar.

“Whilst we face the aforementioned, we are also presented with the additional logistics and challenges of having our children have online schooling. It is inevitable that simultaneously fulfilling the roles of mom, manager, colleague, subordinate, sister, daughter, wife, friend, teacher and counsellor will take its toll. It is absolutely vital that we are ensuring that we are being mindful of – well, being mindful. To actively contemplate how we are feeling, emotionally and physically, and attend to our needs accordingly,” emphasised Pienaar.

“Companies within the industry have different models, with some having staff work from home full-time, and others employing hybrid models, whereby staff work from both home and the office. This change has challenged archaic constructs of staff having to physically work from the office full-time and introduced significant cost savings, as well as changed thinking around work / life balance in general. We are seeing more and more families relocate, with commutes to the original office every two weeks. This changing dynamic has many positive aspects, but does introduce challenges such as ensuring that company culture is maintained and promoted, to a workforce which is physically distanced. It is also more difficult to train new employees in a virtual-only environment. It bears mentioning that many people are struggling with not having the social interaction which was enjoyed daily in the physical office environment. Needless to say, our children are facing the same challenges, from a social aspect,” added Pienaar.

The wheels of change

“Whilst I have an amazing support structure in terms of friends and family, I do miss the interaction with my colleagues, particularly those who have a deeper appreciation for the challenges and frustrations which I have had to face over the past few months. Just yesterday, a dear colleague reminded me that you cannot pour from an empty cup,” she said.

“Whilst the world is transforming in terms of gender equality, the wheels of change are slow,” she continued.

“I had an enlightening and somewhat frustrating conversation with my eleven-year-old daughter, whereby she expressed some frustration at the significant spotlighting of women empowerment, suggesting that men were being neglected due to such. From one point of view, it is amazing that she sees women and men as equals, which speaks to the progress that has been made in the battle for inequality. However, as she grows up, it is highly likely that her current rose-tinted view will be jaded. Women have struggled for equal rights for years, and although we live in the 21st century, the struggle for equality is far from over. Something that did emerge from our conversation was her acute understanding that globally, women are more vulnerable, are preyed upon and victimised,” said Pienaar.

We should empower one another

“Selene Kinder, author at Empowering Women says “I wish more women realised that helping another woman win, cheering her on, praying for her, or sharing a resource with her, does NOT take away from the blessings coming to them. In fact, the more you give, the more you receive. Empowering women doesn’t come from selfishness but rather from selflessness”,” emphasised Pienaar.

“As we raise our daughters and lead young women in the industry, being mindful that they have unbridled access to information through a myriad of platforms, let’s lead them to act with selflessness, to raise their voices, share information, support each other and be heard – it is only by having our opinions heard that society will have the change that it needs,” concluded Pienaar.

Catherine Pienaar