17 August 2012
More needs to be done to empower women in the informal sector and it is necessary to establish an economic development agency for women, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.
“More needs to be done to improve the conditions of the women in the informal sector to ensure that ultimately they grow their enterprises and gradually graduate to the formal sector,” Thabethe said at the start of a two-day Women Economic Empowerment Conference in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province on Thursday.
“More importantly, we need an economic development agency for women. A fully fledged structure for servicing the economic needs of women,” she said.
She said that businesswomen who were operating in the informal sector were still facing challenges in accessing resources and funding in the running of their businesses.
This is despite the fact that South Africa has proven itself to be a pioneer in the emancipation of women on the global scale, Thabethe said.
“Women today own enterprises and are active participants in the economy. We have more women playing leadership roles across various sectors and making inroads in various fields of the economy.”
Women, however, still struggle with entry into sectors and opportunities that were previously targeted at men.
“We still have many women operating in the informal sector where they struggle to access resources such as finance, infrastructure and ease of running businesses,” she said.
The conference was aimed at taking stock of the strides made in ensuring the meaningful participation of women in the economy of KwaZulu-Natal and the country as a whole and to encourage women to participate in sectors that are mainly male- dominated.
It was also aimed at creating a platform where women can exchange information with industry leaders, as well as deal with challenges faced by women in economic participation.