Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday outlined a series of steps to economically emancipate South African women gripped by both the COVID-19 pandemic and gender-based violence.

Although a great deal has been achieved in improving the lives of South African women in the economy, in the political sphere and in public life, there is still much to do, Ramaphosa said in his weekly presidential address as the country marked the Women’s Month, which falls in August.

“Women still face discrimination, harassment and violence, and bear the greatest brunt of poverty,” he said.To achieve economic justice for South African women, Ramaphosa specified the following steps:

Women’s economic inclusion is to be driven through public procurement, with targets having been set to ensure that at least 40 percent of goods and services procured by public entities are sourced from women-owned businesses;

Support for women-owned small, medium and micro enterprises is to be scaled for women who work in the informal sector or are unemployed, with engagement with the financial sector to make financial services accessible and affordable for women;

More women will have access to productive assets such as land, and efforts will be made to ensure that women be beneficiaries of the accelerated land reform program; and Women must be protected from gender-based violence in the workplace, and the government will be working at a national and regional level toward the ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.

Ramaphosa encouraged businesses to support women-owned enterprises in the procurement of goods and services and employ more women while also appointing more women to management positions.

He highlighted the need to eliminate gender disparities in pay, in line with the Employment Equity Act.”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,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa, he said, must build a fundamentally different economy which, among other things, substantially improves the material position of women.

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