by Thabang Leshilo (@Thabang_Leshilo) Newly appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s #heforshe campaign; Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay, “We should all be feminists”; and the Grammy nomination for the Adichie-Beyonce Knowles collaboration have helped ensure that “feminism” has recently garnered more than its usual share of attention in many countries worldwide.

heforshe twitter searchThey’ve also set me to pondering the state of South Africa’s gender equality, what it means to be a female of my generation, and how marketers might think about connecting with us as consumers.

The state of our nation

South Africa is ranked 17th out of 136 countries in terms of gender equality, according to data from the World Economic Forum. However, gender equality is still an issue in the workplace, with women often earning less than men while doing the same job work. And gender-based violence continues to threaten all women in this country.

Despite this, what has been observed from previous research is that most South African women no longer feel a need to prove themselves to men. They are more independent (educational, financial, emotional) than ever before and they are becoming a force to be reckoned with in traditionally male categories such as beer.

“Who run the world? Girls!”

I have no doubt in my mind that female millennials would agree that there has never been a better time to be a female than today.

In my female peers, I see independence, strength of character, greater acceptance of self, confidence in our capabilities, drive and ambition. I see influencers who are not afraid to speak their minds and stand for something.

In our world today, it’s not about being female, but about making choices based upon what we want out of life and for ourselves.

Advertising campaigns such as Dove’s #realbeauty and Always’ #likeagirl have demonstrated a modern expression of feminism, inspiring and empowering millennial females today.

With increasing buying power and a strong influence upon purchase decisions, here are six things to consider when speaking to this demographic:

  1. Be real with her; she values authenticity and will not be impressed by stereotypical female images
  2. Don’t tell her what to do; she already knows what she wants and where she’s going
  3. Empower her to make the difference that she wants to see in herself and the world around her
  4. Inspire her with meaningful experiences at every touchpoint
  5. Keep her interested and she’ll spread the word; she has a powerful network of females who are always looking for ways to connect with each other
  6. Value her opinion; she’s independently minded and not afraid to express her true self.

Thabang Leshilo by Jeremy Glyn in June 2014

Thabang Leshilo (@Thabang_Leshilo) is a project manager at strategic marketing consultancy Added Value. As a ‘next-generation’ marketer with fresh and curious eyes looking into the industry, she has a keen interest for brands that are culturally in tune with and able to integrate and immerse themselves into the everyday realities of the consumer. She contributes the monthly “Tuned” column, sharing marketing insight and analysis, to MarkLives.

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