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Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has hailed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a roadmap for South Africa’s recovery during one of the country’s darkest periods.

“In an insightful State of the Nation Address spanning a wide range of topics, the department was satisfied with President Ramaphosa’s affirmation of his commitment to dedicating resources to ending gender-based violence, supporting women empowerment, focus on empowering youth, and creating job opportunities, and empowering persons with disabilities through opportunities and not handouts,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address last week, President Ramaphosa called for a corruption-free and capacitated state to steer South Africa out of the devastating consequences COVID-19 has had on the country and the world.

This position was endorsed by various Ministers during the SONA debate held on Tuesday, which saw the majority of Members of Parliament show support for the country’s recovery plan.

Nkoana-Mashabane noted that COVID-19 has torn families apart, led to many homes left in mourning, and has had a catastrophic impact on the global economy.

“This pandemic has also worsened already existing inequalities, and has widened gaps in access to economic opportunities, healthcare and education for women, youth and persons with disabilities. The President’s address has assured South Africans that our priority as government is to ensure inclusive growth through a widely consulted recovery plan.

“President Ramaphosa expressed commitment to prioritising the economic empowerment of women. Government’s decision to ensure 40% of public procurement goes to women-owned business is a welcomed step forward, but must be met by equal commitment by the private sector,” the Minister said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the department continues to advocate for the rights of women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“COVID-19 has made us review our work in light of new challenges women, youth and persons with disabilities face as a result of the pandemic. We remain committed to developing responses that guide how government designs programmatic interventions to respond to the inequalities faced by millions of South Africans,” the Minister said.

NYDA Amendment Bill

She announced that the department has recently finalised the National Youth Policy 2030, and is currently consulting on the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Amendment Bill.

The NYDA Amendment Bill seeks to strengthen the agency’s operations; enhance governance; and promote visibility for access of the agency’s products and services.

Through collaboration and partnerships with economic sector departments and key stakeholders outside of government, Nkoana-Mashabane said interventions are being undertaken to share more information and capacitate women, youth and persons with disabilities to be ready to take up opportunities presented within the public procurement space.

“The DWYPD resolved that in order to give effect to the priority on economic transformation and job creation to broaden economic participation in the sanitary dignity programme value chain; manufacturing, storage, packaging, transport, distribution and waste management and disposal, it is imperative to include the empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities owned and managed enterprises.

“The department plans to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, in order to ensure that women participate in and contribute to the South African Infrastructure Programme. The department is also partnering with the Gauteng Province to pilot a women’s bakery project in order to promote township economy,” she said.

Agreement on land ownership by women

Meanwhile, to address the issue of ownership of productive resources, the Minister announced that the department has signed an MOU with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

The collaboration would seek to expand access to the ownership of land by women, youth and persons with disabilities.

“Ensuring the equitable implementation of the Rural Development Programme, food security programmes that alleviate the vice of poverty stricken communities, land allocation that is geared towards sustainable agricultural production that is specifically focused on developing rural enterprises and cooperative support through coordinated interventions to promote capacity building and clear paths towards facilitated market access for women, youth and persons with disabilities,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.


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