President Cyril Ramaphosa says that government is scaling up its support for women to enable them to become financially independent, making them less likely to becoming victims of abuse.
Writing in his newsletter on Monday, he said while progress had been made to improve the lives of women in the country, they still faced discrimination, harassment, violence and poverty.
“This month we begin the implementation of the National Strategic Plan to combat gender-based violence and femicide. A key aspect of the plan is on ensuring greater women’s financial inclusion. This is because economic inequality and social inequality are interconnected. The economic status of women in South Africa makes them more vulnerable to abuse,” he wrote.
Outlining four steps towards that goal, he wrote:
- First, we are going to drive women’s economic inclusion through public procurement. We have set the target of ensuring that at least 40% of goods and services procured by public entities are sourced from women-owned businesses.
- Second, we are going to scale up support for women-owned SMMEs and for women who work in the informal sector or are unemployed. This will include engagement with the financial sector to make financial services accessible and affordable for women.
- Third, we want to ensure more women have access to productive assets such as land. It is essential that women are beneficiaries of the accelerated land reform programme. It is significant that of the R75m in Covid-19 relief earmarked for farming input vouchers, 53% of the beneficiaries will be rural women. We must ensure that women subsistence and small-scale farmers continue to receive support beyond the pandemic.
- Fourth, we want to ensure that women are protected from gender-based violence in the workplace. In this regard, we will be working at a national and regional level towards the ratification of the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.
The emancipation of women, he added, amounted to mere words on paper unless it was matched by commitment from all sectors of society.
“As we prepare for the reconstruction of our economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have said that we cannot simply return to where we were before the outbreak of the virus. We must build a fundamentally different economy which, among other things, substantially improves the material position of women.
“This means that our investment in infrastructure must support not only the development of local industry, but also women-owned businesses. It must deliberately create employment opportunities for women in all stages of planning, financing, building and maintaining infrastructure.
“By the same measures, as we scale up our public employment programmes, we must ensure that young women in particular are identified as participants. In addition to an income, these programmes will provide them with an opportunity to acquire some of the skills and experience necessary to enter the mainstream economy.”