Removing Barriers for Effective Economic Participation of Women Critical for Empowerment

Removing barriers for effective economic participation of women is critical for empowering and creating equitable, inclusive and sustainable women-owned enterprises. This was said by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies while addressing delegates at the Women Empowerment Conference hosted by the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission.

Davies said that B-BBEE can create and enabling economic environment for women to stretch South Africa’s productive capacity in all sectors of the economy. He added that women make up more than fifty percent of the population and their potential cannot be limited.

The objective of the B-BBEE Act is to increase the extent to which black women own and manage enterprises, and increasing their access to economic activities, infrastructure and skills development. To achieve this, black women must have access to financial and non-financial assistance to acquire equity in companies or to start their own businesses, and be able to sustain them, said Davies.

Davies said that female entrepreneurs are growing in numbers, but without access to appropriate funding and other support, many will find it difficult to grow their businesses. He reckoned that access to funds for female entrepreneurs is improving, thanks to government and other state-owned funding organs.

He added that government has put programmes and funds in place aimed at empowering the women of South Africa.

It is well recognised that women are powerful drivers of economic growth in South Africa, and are vital to the country on the boards of companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange in South Africa. The bottom line is that while government assistance need to stretch further to reach female entrepreneurs, these entrepreneurs need to make their own efforts to connect and ready themselves to tap these resources. Only then will the latent economic value of women in our economy reach its full potential, Davies added.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Ms Joan-Mariae Fubbs said that women were and are the vanguard of economic freedom but have yet to enjoy its benefits. She said that the triple exploitation of women in society has been reduced, but not yet eliminated.

Poverty, unemployment and inequality which affect women the most has been identified as a serious impediment to radical transformation and should be urgently addressed. The economic gender gap is also a result of various and often deep-rooted constraints that women face in taking advantage of market opportunities. However, while there has been improvement in the state of entrepreneurship among women, much more still needs to be done, said Fubbs.

She added that increasing the number of black women that manage, own and control enterprises and productive assets of the South African economy, will eradicate barriers to economic participation for black people including black women.

Source: Department of Trade and Industry