Women’s empowerment in South Africa is about transforming society, particularly by equalising the power imbalance between men and women in everyday life. Women empowerment is also about addressing gender oppression, patriarchy, sexism, and structural oppression. Throughout history, women have been oppressed, and this oppression was furthered by refusing women the right to vote. Saudi Arabia was the last country to give women the right to vote in 2015, a mere six years ago.
Worldwide this has resulted in a situation where women are discriminated against and continue to be treated as second-class citizens with little power to enact change. The equality clause in the 1994 constitution represents a breakthrough in women empowerment in South Africa, and successive democratic administrations have continued committing to a progressive legislative framework informed by the principles of gender equality, women’s empowerment, liberation, and emancipation.
However, the legacy of discrimination and oppression of women will take a long time to eradicate. Many women still find themselves placed into traditional gender roles and thus excluded from the formal economy. Meanwhile, in many cases, women who are employed may never make it to the middle and top management echelons, particularly in the private sector.
By empowering women and providing them with the guidance, opportunities, and encouragement to become entrepreneurs, we can grow an inclusive economy and transform the power relations between women and men. When women are empowered, families thrive, communities are safer, and economies grow. In economies where women are free to make choices without being hampered by economic and social pressures, we can stop generational poverty and stimulate economic growth.
Zhauns allows women the training and tools to start their own businesses and change the rest of their lives. We offer leading industry equipment to small- and medium-sized businesses across the African continent to produce products that are in huge daily demand, thus creating sustainable business opportunities for women to become entrepreneurs and even offer employment to other women in their communities.
According to the Clinton Global Initiative, when women work, they invest 90% of their income back into their families, compared with 35% for men. Women entrepreneurs are known to use profits from their businesses to improve their families’ living conditions and lifestyles, especially by investing in their children’s education, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.
It is up to us to create a nourishing environment and afford women the opportunities they need for women empowerment in South Africa to become a lived reality. It takes a societal shift for women to take their rightful place and contribute to their country’s socio-economic growth and development and their communities.