De Beers Group this week announced a three-year partnership with UN Women to accelerate the advancement of women across its organisation, in its diamond producing countries and in its marketing.
As a UN Women partner, De Beers has committed to achieving parity in the appointment of women and men into senior leadership roles, investing in women micro-entrepreneurs and STEM students in its diamond producing countries and ensuring De Beers’ brands are a positive force for supporting gender equality through all its marketing campaigns.
DE BEERS INVESTS US$3 MILLION TO EMPOWER WOMEN IN ITS DIAMOND PRODUCING COUNTRIES
Working alongside UN Women, governments and communities in its diamond producing countries of Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa, De Beers will invest US$3 million to advance the prospects of women and girls by addressing key priority areas. In Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the programmes will focus on accelerating the growth of women-owned micro-enterprises to enhance the capacity of women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, increase their income and create sustainable jobs for themselves and their communities. The capacity-building model will be specifically tailored for each country to support women micro-entrepreneurs with business and life skills to enable them to realise their potential and contribute to the economic growth of their communities.
In Canada, De Beers and UN Women will work with, among others, the University of Waterloo to provide scholarships and mentoring to young women and girls from underprivileged communities who want to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). These programmes are in the advanced planning stages and are due to launch in the coming months.
DE BEERS TO TRANSFORM RATE OF WOMEN APPOINTED INTO SENIOR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS
De Beers will also accelerate the advancement of women across its organisation by more than doubling the rate of women appointed into senior leadership roles, achieving parity in the appointment of women and men into senior leadership by 2020. The commitment to create a step-change in the appointment of senior leaders within De Beers is coupled with a holistic approach already underway and focused on attracting and developing women at earlier stages in their careers wherever De Beers operates across the diamond value chain.
A Gender Diversity Steering Group has been established, reporting to the De Beers Group Executive Committee, with involvement from senior women and men across the organisation to meet this commitment, sustain it and build on it through tailored action plans in each part of the business. Beginning earlier this year, Group-wide initiatives have already included a review of talent attraction and development processes, the rollout of unconscious bias training, the establishment of a senior management-led reciprocal mentoring programme and the review of policies and recruitment guidelines.
DE BEERS TO SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY IN MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
De Beers’ consumer brands Forevermark and De Beers Diamond Jewellers will leverage the considerable purchasing power and cultural influence of their diamond marketing campaigns to serve as a positive force for gender equality. The company will work with UN Women to support its marketing teams in shaping creative campaigns that reflect the diverse roles that women occupy in society. Both Forevermark and De Beers Diamond Jewellers have already begun commissioning new campaigns, due to run later this year and next year, that are inspired by equality and the evolving role of women in society.
BRUCE CLEAVER NAMED A UN WOMEN ‘HE FOR SHE’ THEMATIC CHAMPION
In recognition of De Beers’ commitment to women’s equality, Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, was named a UN Women ‘HeForShe’ Thematic Champion. HeForShe is the UN’s global movement for the acceleration of gender equality and Mr Cleaver is one of eight global Thematic Champions who have committed to implementing policies and actions within their organisation to advance gender equality.
Commenting on his appointment, which was announced by UN Women Executive Director, and Under-Secretary General, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka during the UN General Assembly, Mr Cleaver said: “Improving the prospects for women and girls advances an entire society and organisation, as everyone benefits from the increased diversity of experience, skills and insight that greater representation of women delivers. We are in the early stages of our journey toward gender parity and we know that achieving our goals will require a dedicated and ongoing focus that continues well beyond our initial 2020 target.
“Diamonds hold a unique place in marking the most precious moments in the lives of millions of women around the world. At De Beers we believe it is our responsibility and privilege to stand with women, to lead in the pursuit of equality and to give even deeper meaning to the diamonds they are proud to wear and pass on to next generations.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, said:
“We are delighted to have De Beers Group on board as a UN Women partner. With global organisations like De Beers joining the United Nations movement to achieve gender equality, we are able to reach new and greater audiences to further build global awareness and support for advancing women’s empowerment.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”