Johannesburg - The empowerment of women and female-owned
businesses is integral to the growth of South Africa's economy, President Jacob
Zuma said on Tuesday.
"Our youth, both male and female, need to be provided
with role models to look up to, so that we can succeed in creating a winning
nation of achievers in all fields," he said.
"We also know that the advancement of women in the
country, especially in the economic sphere, still needs a lot of attention
given the backlogs."
Zuma was speaking at the Businesswoman of the Year awards in
He said the women who had been honoured since the inception
of the award were "exceptional".
"The significance of the awards is that they promote
positive images of women as achievers in general, but more especially in the
male-dominated business sector."
He said the 2012 Women in Leadership census report painted
"a disturbing picture of female representation" in the private
The report found that women held only 3.6% of chief
executive or managing director positions, 5.5% of board chair positions, 17.1%
of directorships and 21.4% of executive manager positions.
"The situation in the public service is not
better," Zuma said.
The report found that women constituted 58.9% of the total
workforce in government, but only 0.8% at top management and senior management
"To address the slow pace of gender transformation,
government's programme of action includes the promotion of gender equality and
the advancement of women in all sectors," Zuma said.
"In addition, as government we are trying our best to
provide support mechanisms for women in the economy."
He said the government would continue to support female-owned
"We will also continue to encourage the development and
growth of more women-owned enterprises that will take on the opportunities
brought about by the localisation initiatives of our industrial policy action
plan," Zuma said.
"At a more long-term level, the economic empowerment of
women is included in the National Development Plan (which was) released on 15
August in Parliament by the National Planning Commission."
The Commission for Gender Equality said on Tuesday it had
received a complaint from the Democratic Alliance about remarks Zuma made about
women on a television talk show.
"The commission is investigating the complaint and will
allow due processes to run its course," the commission said in a
Zuma made the comments during an interview with Dali Tambo
on his television show People of the South, aired by SABC3 last Sunday.
The interview was conducted at Zuma's house in Inkandla.
Speaking about his daughter Duduzile's marriage to Lonwabo
Sambudla, Zuma said he was happy for her.
"I was also happy because I wouldn't want to stay with
daughters who are not getting married, because that in itself is a problem in
society. I know that people today think being single is nice. It's actually not
right. That's a distortion," he said.
"You've got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman
because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother."
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