Trudi Makhaya. Picture: TBG
Trudi Makhaya. Picture: TBG

SA is looking at various initiatives, including a sovereign gender bond, to ensure the participation of women in government plans to revive an economy mired in the longest recession since 1992.

Women will be an integral part of proposals focusing on infrastructure investment, Trudi Makhaya, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special economic adviser, told a conference hosted by the ANC. “We have to be careful that it is not just recovery first and women later,” she said.

The plan, which will be finalised within three weeks, was mentioned by Ramaphosa a day after official data showed GDP  shrank an annualised 51% in the three months through June compared with the previous period, extending the economy’s recession into a fourth quarter.

Ramaphosa has made it clear that women must be part of the plan, Makhaya said. “This includes that procurement targets are 40% for women, but we also have to ensure that women are ready to take this up.

“The government is looking at various financing initiatives and held discussions with the UN about a sovereign gender bond,” Makhaya said. The commercial notes would be used to finance projects or companies that meet gender-related criteria, she added.

Meanwhile, the Solidarity Fund announced on Sunday that the UK government had donated £2.15m for women beneficiary projects in SA.

“The British High Commission to SA has noted that they would be interested in these funds being deployed to support the [Solidarity] Fund’s efforts in responding to GBV [gender-based violence], but also supporting women’s economic empowerment and SMEs [small and medium enterprises],” the Solidarity Fund said.

Black Business Council president Sandile Zungu said the UK government’s donation was a welcome development, as was the sovereign gender bond proposal.

“We have to make every effort towards increasing women participation in the economy,” said Zungu.

“We are deeply concerned about the slow pace of transformation and the efforts made towards women’s advancement.

“The slow transformation pace is cross-cutting because the black man equally feels [he is] not given a chance. But the issue of women emancipation is damning,” he said.

In August, Commission for Employment Equity chair Tabea Kabinde said if parliament promulgated the Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEA Bill), sector targets would become “pivotal in achieving transformation”.

“The employment equity compliance certificate will serve as an incentive in transacting with the state,” said Kabinde.

The EEA Bill was approved by cabinet and sent to the National Assembly in February. It is intended to accelerate transformation by putting clear targets in place. It was published on July 20 for public comment.  With Luyolo Mkentane

Bloomberg

Updated: September 13
This article was updated with new information.

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