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United Nation's 2018 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) (Lebo's Blog, pt 2)

Lebo and Rise Young Woman Advocate, Nadeli Chirwa, are attending the United Nation’s 2018 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)

Dear friends,

Greetings from a chilly New York City where we continue to have fascinating and deeply meaningful conversations about the real stories and lives that women lead around the world.

In an interactive dialogue on Tuesday, we interrogated how we can make the rural economy work better for women and girls. Panellists shared examples of initiatives that leverage the rural economy for women and girls.

We discussed tailored banking models to finance women and girl entrepreneurs, investment cooperatives for economic development, rural parks (like urban business parks), supporting enterprises that incentivize women and girls to enter new market spaces, and how digital technology can be used to enable women and girls to access new opportunities.

The dialogue was chaired by Anne Githuku-Shongwe, the UN Women Representative of the South Africa Multi-Country Office. Both the Ministry in the Presidency responsible for Women and the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform in South Africa - and their counterparts from our fellow BRICS member, Brazil, and fellow AU member, Kenya – were represented. Women Holding and the Rural Women’s Movement in South Africa also attended.

Our former First Lady and founder of Women's Development Bank Zanele Mbeki, highlighted two important observations in the meeting.

First, she candidly said that South Africa does not have a ‘good governance’ story to tell, and two, that – unlike other comparable development states such as India, Bangladesh or Peru – we don’t have a Micro Finance Act (or enabling legislation) in South Africa. This is in sharp contrast to the highly successful Kenya Women Holding (KWH) - a woman led, women serving development institution that works to empower, position and advocate for Kenyan women. KWH has over 400,000 women members across Kenya and provides non-financial services to women entrepreneurs with technical expertise and know-how. It is little wonder that entrepreneurship is thriving in Kenya.

This has got me thinking.

Soul City will be thinking intensely about how we can do more to help promote aspirant entrepreneurs that prioritise South African women in applying for start-up finance, including accessing funding and know-how expertise from educational organizations. We are determined that more and more black women most be assisted to break the glass ceilings that stubbornly persist in our still male dominated society.

Finally, Naledi asked an important question about how we ensure that young women are an integral part of decision-making in rural areas where traditional leaders (amaKhosi) in South Africa and chiefs in other African states don’t fully recognise their rights. It’s a tough question that we must answer.

Please listen to our podcast which highlights some of these issues raised in Naledi’s interview with the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini.

All the best,

Lebo

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