Economic transformation geared towards empowering women is crucial in a country in which women are, according to statistics, disadvantaged.
This was the message delivered by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Hlengiwe Mavimbela at the Women in Business Symposium hosted by the Inkosi Mtubatuba Municipality at the Mzondeni Civic Centre (KwaMsane) on Thursday.
Mavimbela said in light of the data that shows that women in South Africa are still economically disadvantaged, their empowerment, and transformation aimed at ensuring that they occupy key positions in the private and public sectors as well as within political organisations is necessary.
Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2021 released on Tuesday revealed that the country’s labour market is more favourable to men than women.
Mavimbela said it is also important that women refrain from dragging each other down by, for example, levelling unfounded allegations against one of their own such as that they slept their to the top when ascending the ladder of success.
Rather, what is essential is that women should recognize and support each other and thrive towards collective development, Mavimbela said.
The MEC urged attendees at the symposium to support local businesses, in particular those owned and run by women, by buying from them.
Mavimbela pointed out that the conditions brought about the Covid-19 pandemic had created opportunities for women in business, making an example that the masks she wears in adherence to Covid-19 preventative measures are procured from a project run by a woman in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal.
The MEC urged the leadership of Inkosi Mtubatuba Municipality to take advantage of this opportunity by procuring their personal protective equipment (PPE) locally, preferably from women.
Mavimbela echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call that businesses owned and run by women, the youth and people living with disabilities should be strategically positioned to gain more access to the economy.
Genger-based violence remains a scourge in South Africa, Mavimbela said, adding that older women should stop teaching their younger counterparts that they should endure abusive marriages and relationships.
Older women should stop sweeping cases of gender-based violence under the carpet because this negatively impacts both the victim and the abuser, the latter because they never account for and acknowledge their wrongs, which is why it is important that the law should intervene in such cases and be allowed to take its course, Mavimbela said.
Mavimbela said the rioting and mass looting witnessed in the province, and in Gauteng, in July had an adverse impact mostly on businesses run by women, adding that though communities have the right to air their grievances, they should do so in a manner that is not to the detriment of people’s livelihoods.
The symposium should result with the unearthing of opportunities for women in the uMkhanyakude District where Mtubatuba is located, the MEC said.
Mavimbela added that the town of Mtubatuba is strategically positioned along the N2 road which links it to major centres of economic activity in the province, namely, Richards Bay and Durban and also the neighbouring countries of Mozambique and Swaziland and that the town’s leadership should explore the opportunities that this positioning avails.
Agriculture and tourism are the main drivers of economic activity in the district and women should exploit the opportunities available within these sectors, the MEC said.
Giving his remarks, the municipality’s mayor Verus Ncamphalala said it is important to be cognizant of the reality that when talking about previously disadvantaged black people, black women were in a worse off position and so empowerment policies should seek to address this.