Advancement of women needs attention - Zuma

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pretoria - The advancement of women in South Africa, particularly in the economic sphere, still needed much attention considering the backlogs, says President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking at the Businesswoman of the Year Awards in Sandton on Tuesday, the President noted the "disturbing" picture of female representation in the private sector, particularly the low number of women holding CEO or managing director positions, board chair positions, directorships and executive manager positions.

The situation in the public service was not much better, he acknowledged. To address the slow pace of gender transformation, government's programme of action includes the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women in all sectors.

"We have introduced the Gender Equality Bill. It will provide the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities with the necessary authority to monitor, review and promote gender equality in all programmes of government and other sectors. This new law will encourage all of us to comply with this imperative in the Constitution," the President added.

Government was also trying its best to provide support mechanisms for women in the economy and would continue to support women-owned enterprises to overcome barriers such as lack of access to finance and technology.

"We will also continue to encourage the development and growth of more women owned enterprises that will take on the opportunities brought about by the localization initiatives of our Industrial Policy Action Plan. The plan advocates the participation of women-owned enterprises in key industrial sectors. These include chemicals, advanced manufacturing, green energy, agro-processing, metals, and automotive sectors," he said.

The economic empowerment of women was included in the National Development Plan released by the National Planning Commission, Zuma pointed out.

The plan proposes that the transformation of the economy should involve the active participation and empowerment of women and that public employment programmes such as the Community Works Programme should be expanded, with a specific focus on youth and women.