Government to host women’s assembly to advance economic empowerment: Ramaphosa
The government will this week host a first-of-its-kind Women’s Economic Assembly to discuss and find solutions to the economic hardships facing women in the country.
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who announced this in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
The assembly will bring under one roof public and private stakeholders to discuss and come up with solutions on how best to economically elevate women.
Ramaphosa said while progress had been made to promote equality for women in areas like government, civil society, the administration of justice, sport and culture, the same cannot be said about economic inclusion.
This, he said, was demonstrated by the fact that women had the highest unemployment rate at 41%, and women are more likely to do unpaid work than men.
Women also continued to earn less than men for the same job in the workplace, despite this being outlawed.
Meaningful gender equality can only be achieved once there is full and equal participation of women in the economy.President Cyril Ramaphosa
It was logical that meaningful gender equality can only be achieved once there is “full and equal participation of women in the economy”.
Ramaphosa wrote: “Last year government announced that at least 40% of public sector procurement will go to women-owned businesses. As we work towards this target, we are calling on the private sector to make a similar commitment.
“The Women’s Economic Assembly will consider how supply chains can be used to benefit women-owned businesses, address the policy impediments to women’s economic empowerment, and improve access to financing for women-owned businesses, especially rural enterprises.
“A number of economic sectors, such as automotive, agriculture, mining and energy, will present commitments and action plans to enhance the participation of women-owned businesses. Some government departments and state-owned enterprises will also present their commitments.”
The president believes government alone cannot bear the cross of women’s economic inclusion. It was for this reason bringing the private sector on board was of paramount importance.
“The financial services sector must work to broaden access to credit and digital financial services like e-commerce and online banking.
““Lack of financing impedes the expansion and sustainability of many women-owned businesses, especially SMMEs.”