Monday, 09 March 2020

Tweeling: In commemorating International Women’s Day on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa punted the importance of empowering women to ensure their economic and financial independence.

“Providing women with the necessary support to enable them to become financially independent is critical. Not just because their economic inclusion is central to any country’s development, but also because economic marginalisation and economic dependency leaves women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said the President.

The President made the remarks during the International Women’s Day celebrations at Tweeling Stadium in the Free State, where he  delivered the keynote address. International Women’s day is celebrated globally, every year on 8 March, to honour the achievements of women in various fields.

This year marks a number of milestones in the continental and global fight for gender justice.

Firstly, it is the end of the Decade of African Women (2010-2020), whose purpose was to reinvigorate commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Secondly, it is the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, which acknowledges the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, and affirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and in post-conflict reconstruction.

It is also 25 years since 17 000 delegates – representing 189 countries – met in the Chinese capital, Beijing, at the landmark Fourth UN World Conference on Women.

Last year, government achieved 50/50 parity in Cabinet for the first time, and 47% of MPs are women.

As chair of the African Union, South Africa has committed to use its chairship to bring women into the mainstream of economic activity and to drive a concerted programme of action to stamp out gender-based violence across the continent.

“We will urge all AU member States to devote adequate budgetary allocations for women’s empowerment; to set aside at least 30% of all government procurement for women-owned businesses; to reduce barriers to financial services for women-owned businesses, and to pass legislation that ensures equal work for equal pay,” said the President.

With the African Continental Free Trade Area set to come into effect this year, President Ramaphosa said the continent will use ambitions towards the industrialisation and digitisation of Africa under the pact to benefit women.

“In South Africa, we continue to work to broaden the participation of women in our economy.

“We have introduced the SheTradesZA platform to assist women-owned businesses to participate in global value chains and markets,” said the President.

Over the next five years, the Industrial Development Corporation has set a target of providing R10 billion of government and partner funding for women-empowered businesses.

To create a larger market for small businesses, government also plans to designate 1 000 locally produced products that must be procured from SMMEs.