Do White South African Women Need Job Protection?

A debate among South African women has arisen over whether white women are entitled to protection under affirmative action programs. Black Management Forum president Jimmy Manyi said white women should not be covered under provisions of South African affirmative action laws. Carrie Shelver of People Opposing Women Abuse argues affirmative action is not achieving the desired effect because it is not addressing black women’s needs. She argues black women are m ore disadvantaged than whites and including white women allows companies to hire white females and thus get around being accused of not adhering to affirmative action guidelines. Theresa Oaklley, CEO of Absolute Ndaba, a human resource company, says “I have never understood why white women were placed in BEE in the first place because white women were not disenfranchised by apartheid. They may have had tough times bt they are not previously disadvantaged.”

Kelebohile Lekoape, consultant for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Resarch, argues to the contrary. “Surely, affirmative action was meant to provide additional opportunity for the previously disadvantaged. Even though white women were not totally disadvantaged, they had limited opportunities, thefore, more opportunities should be opened to them.”

To the extent each group of women, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, is allowed to achieve the full potential of her skills and knowledge, to that extent will all women attain such goals.