Financial crisis highlights need for gender parity

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New York - The current global financial crisis has highlighted the need for greater participation for women in financial decision-making, says Minister in The Presidency Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Speaking at the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women held at United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday, the minister said the consequences of the global financial crisis on women and girls in particular have not received enough attention.

The South African government, said the minister, has initiated engagements with business and social partners to design mechanisms to retain jobs and mitigate the impact of the downturn.

A slow down in global markets has led to more job losses and companies downsizing to cut down on unnecessary costs.

"The challenge however, remains the effective involvement and benefits by women," she said.

South Africa, the minister said, was striving towards a more equitable approach to prevention, support and care, including nutrition, treatment and continued ethical research in meaningful consultation and involvement of women.

"We also believe that concrete recommendations and mechanisms are further needed to ensure visible action with respect to breaking down gender stereotypes and negative traditional and cultural practices to ensure the empowerment of women."

She said South Africa's efforts to reach the target of 50 percent representation of women in decision-making positions and politics at all levels by 2015 had gained momentum.

On 19 February, the 50/50 percent campaign was launched in line with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.

"Through this campaign, all political parties are urged to review their electoral lists in order to achieve this particular gender parity.

"The intention is to ensure that we surpass the current 42 percent representation of women in Cabinet and the 33 percent of women in Parliament towards gender parity in both the private sector and civil society."

The minister said the international community must continue to support women and capacitate them to ensure that they are retained in decision-making positions.

South Africa, Ms Tshabalala-Msimang said was also working on the establishment of a Women's Ministry to be located in the Presidency, as a well-resourced and defined authority.