Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Rise of Steel Sorority in South Africa


On the 7th of August, the women of Veer Steel Mills re-enacted a historic march that happened on the 9th of August 1956 in South Africa. On that day,20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans, defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act, to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain a population.

Metallurgy is a predominantly male-dominated field in already male-dominated steel industry. According to Manufacturing Circle South Africa, only 34% of people employed in manufacturing are women. According to Siddicqa Hardev, HR Manager at Veer Steel Mills, “The status quo must shift to pave the way for the inclusion of women across the steel manufacturing value chain.”

64 years later, now situated in Alberton Johannesburg, Veer Steel Mills encourages women to speak out against gender-based work bias and violence. The company has announced a bursary giveaway, to help young women who are studying towards a qualification within the steel manufacturing industry.

“Steel is an integral part of the South African economy, and the industry is full of opportunities for women specifically. Women bring an element of creativity to metallurgy, and we are doing our best to attract and retain talented and passionate ladies in steel. Female empowerment is a foundational value of Veer Steel Mills. Increased representation and diversity are integral to bolstering the steel industry as a whole,” said Hardev.

The first female to work at Veer Steel Mills, Windy Ngqwaku, shared her journey at the company, she started working at Veer Steel Mills in 2012 as a cleaner, progressed to a receptionist position and today she is the Office Manager.

“When I started here, this company was a male-dominated but now things have changed. I got to this management position because I worked hard and I was patient.”

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