Paving the way for other women

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya says women leaders, influencers and thought leaders have a duty to pave the way for others to follow, as many women remain marginalised and have no voice.

In her opening remarks at the Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment and Advancement webinar recently, Minister Siweya commended the women of 1956 who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and the many others who have paved the way for a better tomorrow for all.

The event was organised by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in partnership with Brand South Africa, BintiAfrika Konnect and Mail & Guardian.

“As women, we need to use our collective voices and our influence. I know all of us have faced many challenges and that despite our successes we are still burdened in additional ways merely by being women,” Minister Siweya said.

Women, she said, are known to invest in their children's health and education, which hold enormous benefits in the fight against the triple challenge of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Also taking part in the webinar, Mmabatlharo Nono Dihemo, the Senior Gender Advisor at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan, said since the COVID-19 pandemic, gender inequality has deepened.

By 2021, there were fewer jobs for women compared to men. “As governments responded, women’s needs were rarely at the centre,” she said.

Dihemo said violence against women and girls also intensified during the pandemic. It was detrimental to women’s economic security and exacerbated existing inequalities in unpaid care work.

Victoria Rowan, the Research and Media Strengthening Project Officer, and Binti Afrika, the co-founder and Eastern/Central Africa Editor, emphasised the need to educate African girls to become informed and empowered leaders in their communities.

 “Legal protection, healthcare and access to training and job skills, so that girls can thrive, [and] making a difference in their lives and their communities will empower socio-economic rights to female youth,” Rowan said.

GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams said there are solutions to some of the many problems that can achieve meaningful change.

“The negative socio-economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic also threaten to undo the many inroads we have made over the years in advancing women. If we are to stay the course, we must redouble our efforts. We must work towards the complete and equal integration of women into all aspects of our society,” Williams said.– SAnews.gov.za