The importance of women empowerment: Q&A Session

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Take a look at what questions were posed on the panel who graced the New Age business brifieng held at the Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Monday.

The Minister of Women in the presidency Susan Shabangu alongside other panelists answered questions from the audience and host Peter Ndoro in a Q and A session.

Question: Sebake Trinity: How can we extend these programmes to rural areas where there are many disadvantaged girls who do not have access to opportunities?

Answer: Minister Susan Shabangu: I think it is very important to say while the rural girls still face challenges it is different from the past. What we need to do is to enhance where the girl child is from a rural area. In the past, most of the girls in rural areas did not have basic needs. One of the critical aspects we are dealing with, as the government, is to provide those basic needs. Education may seem a struggle but we are moving in the right direction. Another element is that a rural girl is now protected by the law against forceful marriage. They now have rights and they must know them.
Question: Lukhanyiso Matebese: How can senior women leaders in government stay in touch with female leaders in university institutions (SRCs) in order to make sure they succeed in society?
Answer: CEO of Women’s Development Bank, Totsie Memela: The key is to know first that we are unique. We all bring different energies and skills to the table and it is okay. We need to work with different people and because we share the same political affiliations or because we are friends. I am glad that through the inter-generational programme we can start sharing ideas and experiences. I too have learnt a lot from my juniors because there are certain things they bring to the party that I do not know.

Question: Peter Ndoro: Unlike the government, the private sector has a low number of women in boardrooms as CEOs of JSE-listed companies. That struggle still has so far to go. Why?

Answer: Memela: The sad thing is that we had gone a long way, even ensuring the number of women in the boardroom increases. We have actually gone back as a nation and this is a very sad state of affairs. The excuse we make is to say there aren’t enough women of colour in the corporate world but it’s just that we don’t give them enough opportunities. We all have the responsibility to lift as you rise. Do away with the “pull her down” syndrome, empower each other through mentorships and sponsoring.

Question: There is a population of 51% of women in South Africa. You could outvote males any day. Why aren’t there enough women who are taking charge and controlling the situation?

Answer: Memela: There are a number of issues we need to address because over and above the fact that men don’t enable us, we also do not take up our space in society because we always think we need to be 130% before we can claim our place in society, yet males can know 70% of things because they have confidence. The failure starts with us mothers because we teach children unevenly. Boys are told they can do it and girls are told they need to work twice as hard to achieve what boys do. That system has to change.

-Nontokozo Gxumisa

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