South Africa: 16 Days - Women Empowerment Takes Centre Stage

24 November 2020

Government has reiterated its commitment to focus on women's economic empowerment initiatives in an effort to ensure they fully assume their rightful place in the economy and society.

"As a country, we have made a commitment to earmark 40% preferential procurement to women-owned businesses nationally," Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday in Pretoria by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), the Minister said a central coordinating mechanism has been curated, with a national procurement task team coordinated by the Presidency, to ensure that key actions are taken to achieve this target.

"Initiatives aimed at fast tracking the empowerment of women-owned businesses to better take up opportunities within the implementation of the 40% preferential public procurement have been developed and will be implemented from December 2020 onwards.

"Women will be capacitated in business registration and compliance, procurement and regulatory provisions, financial literacy, marketing tools, and access to markets and access to finance and opportunities," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

A training manual is being developed in this regard.

The IMC held a media briefing to launch this year's 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, taking place under the theme, 'Women's Economic Justice for a Non-Violent and Non-Sexist South Africa'.

"Through this theme, our focus is on the importance of women's economic empowerment as an integral component of efforts to eradicate gender-based violence and femicide, and build a non-sexist South Africa," the Minister said.

South Africa is in the process of ratifying the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention C190, which establishes a global standard for the protection of women in the world of work.

"The aim is to ensure safe workplaces that are free of violence against women. This work also aims to galvanise national leadership for gender equality and address GBVF in the workplace at the highest levels of decision-making," the Minister said.

This year marks 22 years since South Africa embarked on the United Nations-led 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. The campaign takes place annually from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

GBVF National Strategic Plan

Government continues to fight the scourge of GBVF in the country within the framework of the Gender-based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan (GBVF-NSP).

Approved by Cabinet in March 2020, the plan was developed to respond to GBVF in the country. It aims to provide a multi-sectoral, coherent strategic policy and programming framework to strengthen a coordinated national response to the crisis of gender-based violence and femicide by the government of South Africa and the country as a whole.

"As part of institutionalising the implementation of the National Strategic Plan, a number of processes have been employed by the department to enforce accountability, provide leadership and coordinate implementation.

"We are working with various departments to prepare and submit weekly reporting to the President on progress made in implementation of targets set out in the National Strategic Plan," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

The Minister's department has successfully advocated for inclusion of GBVF as a standing agenda item on all Directors-General (DGs) clusters and Cabinet meetings.

"This is part of enhancing accountability and better coordination of the National Strategic Plan implementation. We have also partnered with UN Women and civil society to institutionalise the multi-sectoral implementation of the National Strategic Plan," the Minister said.

In addition, all provinces are working on putting in place, or strengthening and aligning coordinating structures to the National Strategic Plan.

"This process is essential, as provinces also have to start reporting on progress. Ultimately, this process will be replicated at the district level, championed by the mayor," the Minister said.

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, said while the national crime statistics for the second quarter of the 2020/21 financial year showed a decrease of 16.8% in sexual offences, more than 8 000 rape cases were reported to the police in those three months alone.

"Many of the rapes occur in public places such as parks, beaches, parking areas and open fields, which means women are not safe. Worryingly, they also happen at educational institutions, workplaces and churches.

"The majority of women were raped in their homes or at the homes of perpetrators. The majority of them are raped where they are supposed to be safe," Cele said.

He called on members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) not to send women to negotiate with women when they come to report cases of violence against them.

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