Empowering Women for Economic Growth in South Africa

Her Excellency Lulama Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children, and People with Disabilities, Republic of South Africa

South Africa has one of the world’s leading legal frameworks for protecting women’s rights. South Africa’s 1996 constitutional provisions give equal importance to “non-sexism” and “non-racialism.” Progress for women is visible in the public sector where, in the country’s 2009 elections, female representation in parliament rose from 34 to 45 percent. Conversely, women’s leadership roles in the private sector have seen little improvement since 1996, keeping South Africa from reaching its full economic potential. Recognizing the importance of women’s employment and leadership in combating poverty, the South African government is developing a Gender Equity Bill that will enforce gender parity in the public and private sectors. If this goal is achieved, South Africa could not only create new jobs and reduce unemployment, but also provide new opportunities to empower its women.

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