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Advancing economic inclusion for women in Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed South Africa’s continued commitment to fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and to advance the economic inclusion of women.

He made these remarks on Tuesday during a virtual bilateral discussion with Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands to deepen cooperation on advancing economic inclusion for women in Africa.

Queen Máxima participated in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).

The President highlighted four main challenges African women face in relation to financial inclusion.

These include the lack of suitable and affordable financial services for women on the margins of society; the significant challenge of COVID-19, which has been a setback for both women as well as the roll-out of African Union (AU) programmes.

He said GBV continues to be an impediment to women’s empowerment in the region and a lack of access to technology and digital infrastructure for women on the margins.

“The President conveyed some of the fundamental steps that South Africa has embarked on, including the development of the Financial Inclusion Policy as a national policy that will ensure that 40% of public procurement is in favour of women,” the Presidency said.

The leaders also discussed tangible actions to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women in Africa as a cornerstone of COVID-19 response and recovery.

“UNSGSA Queen Máxima sought to understand what key challenges African women face in accessing financial services, and what programmes South Africa and the AU were currently implementing to address these challenges.

“Queen Máxima stressed her keenness to advance the agenda for women’s financial and economic inclusion in her capacity as UN Special Advocate; as well as in relation to the G7 Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa,” the Presidency said.

The UNSGSA emphasized the importance of digital public goods to accelerate women’s financial inclusion in Africa. Examples of such goods include connectivity, regulation supportive of digital financial services, digital ID, and robust financial consumer protection measures.

President Ramaphosa and UNSGSA Queen Máxima agreed on the need to work together to achieve their shared goal of women economic and digital emancipation and committed to meet again to further concretise collaboration and coordination.

Queen Máxima intends to work with the President and other AU leaders to champion and address key challenges to the empowerment of women in Africa.

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