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Multi-Party Women’s Caucus focusses on co-operatives to empower local women

Republic of South Africa: The Parliament Download logo

The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) was briefed by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, Ms Ruth Bhengu, on the use of co-operatives to empower local women in order to attain economic empowerment.

The MPWC was also briefed by the Department of Women in the Presidency on the state of the national gender machinery, the sanitary dignity framework and progress made in developing a gender-responsive planning and budgeting framework.

The MPWC noted and commended the role of Treasury in responding positively to its request for sanitary towels to be zero-rated as of April 2019. The MPWC has worked hard to engage with the relevant role players to ensure that value added tax (VAT) is removed from the purchase of sanitary towels and marked this as a significant achievement. 

Briefing the MPWC, Ms Bhengu urged the caucus continue advocating for women to be empowered to manufacture sanitary towels, which will help them financially. Co-operatives of women producing sanitary products should be established and supported.

In order to address the challenges experienced by co-operatives, the portfolio committee believes that legislation should be drafted so that government is compelled to ring-fence budgets for co-operatives to ensure women empowerment. Big business has received a lot of financial support from government through various projects. It is crucial that co-operatives are taken more seriously to ensure their success.

Members of the MPWC suggested that government should consider organising a summit on co-operatives to engage with women to find solutions to current stumbling blocks.

On the issue of the national gender machinery, the Chairperson of the MPWC, Ms Rosalia Storey Morutoa said the objective of the meeting was to establish what the department is doing on this issue.

The Department of Women said it has established a task team comprising government departments, gender focal points, international women’s right’s advocates, chapter nine institutions, civil society and academics. Furthermore, an expert advisory panel on the national gender machinery will be established, comprising international and national scholars and feminist/gender activists that will run from 3 September 2018 to 31 March 2019.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.
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