President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly on the desk mailer, revealed that much of the priority this week will be preparing for the 32nd African Union (AU) summit taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday 10 February.
Ramaphosa wants AU to focus on empowering women in Africa
Ramaphosa confirmed that South Africa’s chairship of the continental organisation will tackle the rife gender inequalities in business. He indicated that the timing of it all was too perfect to miss the opportunity of addressing the gross disparage of women in our economy.
“With the African Continental Free Trade Area coming into operation this year, we have an opportunity to ensure that women and women-owned businesses are able to meaningfully benefit from what will be the world’s largest common market for goods and services. Just as there can be no real gender equality without economic emancipation for women, so too there can be no sustainable economic growth for any country unless women are full and equal participants,” he said.
The president indicated that the principle of equal pay for equal work is still a problem experienced by many in different industries, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
For Ramaphosa, it only made sense to formulate a plan to use the AU chairship platform to lift the burden off women.
“Women still carry the highest burden for child care and ‘unpaid work’ in the home. Women still occupy lower-paid and lower-skilled jobs. Despite employment equity legislation, there are fewer women than men in senior management roles, especially in business. These are some of the inequalities that, together with other African countries, we aim to correct,” he added.
Gender-based violence is another agenda in the fight for women that South Africa aims to address, the president said. He indicated that aside from giving women prominent voices in political decision-making processes, a lot of work must be done in eradicating the scourge of violence against women in Africa.
“Eradicating gender-based violence, advancing affirmative action policies, supporting working mothers through the provision of affordable childcare, parental leave and flexible working hours, and making our public spaces safer for women are all necessary if women are to participate meaningfully in economic activity.
“There is much we hope to achieve during our AU chairship. But there can be no greater achievement than giving the women of our continent greater control over their lives and the ability to make decisions to advance greater economic security and personal empowerment,” he noted.