Women's Empowerment Fund to be established

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cape Town - A fund for women's empowerment is to be established to enable women to start and develop their own businesses.

Speaking during the Presidency's Budget Vote in the National Assembly this afternoon, Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, said the fund would be the immediate deliverable of the department.

"It will assist NGOs and civil society in undertaking women-empowerment programmes," she said, adding that the department will consult with all stakeholders on the issue within the next month and pilot the fund this financial year.

"We will use research findings in identifying blockages limiting progress towards attaining the 50 percent equity target for women in senior management positions in the public sector," she said.

The minister said all the necessary measures would be taken to ensure that gender parity targets were achieved.

Ms Mayende-Sibiya said the programme on woman would also focus on strengthening and broadening the National Machinery for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality through the establishment of effective and efficient advisory units in all structures of government at the national, provincial and local levels.

While the process of consultation with stakeholders on finalising the strategic priorities for the new Ministry would continue, some of the issues that would be at the top of the agenda include responding to the challenge of the feminisation of poverty.

Creation of decent jobs and economic empowerment of women as well as increasing the representation of women in positions of decision-making and in management levels towards 50 percent parity would also be on the agenda.

On women and children in rural areas, the minister said they were at the receiving end of the challenges posed by underdevelopment in these areas. "They are the ones who fetch water from the streams, collect wood for cooking and toil the land to support families through subsistence farming.

"It is therefore logical that they should be the primary beneficiaries of government programmes on rural development, agricultural support and land reform," the minister said.

The department's goal, she said, was to ensure that women were liberated from the constraints of many centuries of land deprivation.

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