Message of Support Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Republic of South Africa Minister for Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and former African Union Commission Chairperson To The Africa Women in Trade Expo Cape Town, 20 October 2022Your Royal Highness Princess Motloung and Programme Director for the day, The founder and CEO for the Africa Women in Trade (AWT), Ms Joy Zenz, Representatives from the African Union (AU), the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as well as other Pan African and Multilateral institutions, including the United Nations (UN), Members of the AWT, Speakers, Invited Guests, Ladies and gentlemen. I wish to first welcome you to this the South most tip of Africa. This area offers some of Africa’s splendour, as well as beautiful cuisine, sights, and sounds, so we hope you will be able to take time to take these in. It is also an area that is rich in our history and heritage. Not so far from this meeting venue is Kasteel de Goede Hoop – the Castle of Good Hope. This bastion for the colonial masters, acted as a gateway for the conquests of the marauding settlers, who oppressed the unsuspecting natives for over three centuries. The venue you meet in is also where President Nelson Mandela first addressed South Africa and the world, after twenty-seven years of incarceration on Robben Island, which is not too far from where you are. The island served as an inspirational informal university for many of our leaders, including Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki, amongst others. It is also a living world heritage site on account of its history, as well as flora, and fauna which include seabirds and African penguins. Our living heritage also includes one of the seven wonders which has the widest variety of flowers and plant life in the world — the towering Table Mountain. We also encourage you to also take time to take a township tour and interact with our most precious resource, our people. Our sharing prone human treasures will give you a better understanding of our proud and divided past, and they are bound to share a smile, world famous wine, or snoek (fish) with you. Sadly, I am unable to physically join you but do look forward to the outcomes of this landmark gathering, which combines the efforts of women and young people on our continent and the diaspora. Programme Director, the exponential growth of the African Women in Trade (AWT) membership, since our last meeting in January, bears testimony to the indomitable fighting spirit of African women and young people on our continent and in the diaspora. For that I wish to congratulate the leadership and members of this great network. Your gathering today stands to refuel and reignite our energies towards “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” Of great significance is that you have foregrounded the reaching of this objective not through aid and handouts, but through your own talents, sweat and intellects. Indeed, it is only Africans that can free themselves from hunger, poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. Your efforts are contributing a lot towards that. Programme Director, this gathering also happens a month after the first African Union organised Conference on Women and Youth in Trade. Thus, it offers us an opportunity to align and influence actions towards realising the intertwined aspirations of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. A key aspiration which should come under your spotlight is that of “a prosperous Africa, based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”. In considering this aspiration and its attached programmes and plans you must place into focus the economic liberation of women, who continue to face triple oppression on the grounds of sex, class, and race. This oppression has manifested itself in various ways including the gender pay gap, wherein the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports that in Africa the median monthly income of women is less than half of men. Elsewhere in the world women earn an average of 70 to 80% of men’s income. The recent World Bank Report titled “Profiting from Parity” also shows that the income of African female entrepreneurs is on average only two thirds of their male counterparts . In part these disparities are historic and are a result of persisting legal and social discrimination. These discriminations have led to around 2.4 billion women of working age, in the world, not being afforded economic opportunities. Most of them live in the 178 countries which maintain legal barriers preventing the full economic participation of women. In 86 of these countries women face some form of job restrictions. It will therefore be impossible for women to participate in any form of trade, unless they form a core part of the mainstream of the economy, and they receive equal remuneration for the same work. Last year 23 countries in the world joined the family of nations such as Iceland in criminalising gender wage discrimination and advancing women’s economic inclusion. Therefore, this gathering must emerge with an unambiguous call for equal pay for equal work, which must make anything else illegal. This will also assist in breaking the glass ceiling which limits the managerial and ownership levels, as well as, sectors that women reach. Programme Director, the COVID-19 pandemic also widened wage and income inequalities between women and men. It also accentuated the social and structural barriers that need to be addressed to achieve wage and income equality between the genders. For instance, most often women carry a heavier workload at home and feature prominently in the list of unpaid work. Thus, this unpaid work ought to be considered in GDP measurements which must be complemented by targeted skill development and education. Additionally, radical reforms directed at making the world of work more accessible and hospitable to women must be urgently implemented. These wage and income gaps have also acted as structural, economic, social, procedural, and financial barriers to trade for women and youth. These, and others, have partially prevented the progression and formalisation of women informal traders, who constitute up to 90% of all informal traders and 70% of informal cross border traders. The AWT must be the authentic voice of these and other women, who have thus far faced much abuse, including Gender Based Violence and Femicide. We must ensure that the inter country crossings are safe and with adequate infrastructure to promote their health, safety, dignity, and well-being, as 80% of our population depends on the entrepreneurship of these women. Their safe passage also depends on documentation and systems. Let one of the clarion calls to emerge from this gathering be the full and unreserved implementation of the African Passport, so that women and traders are not treated as foreigners in their own land. This will also assist member states to combat the problems associated with undocumented non-nationals and will assist in ramping up national population registers. However, women cannot remain confined to the informal and small business sectors. They must also be found in all areas of human endeavour and in the mainstream of our economies, amongst big and formal businesses alike. For women to be able to unlock trade on the continent, they must also be in control and own the means of production and processing, including land. Although African women constitute over 70% of the agriculture sector, they own less than 13% of the land. According to Trust Africa they also constitute nearly 100% of the labourers in food production. According to the Association of Women in Mining in Africa, a network similar to yours of women in mining, oil and gas, women in the traditionally male dominated mining workforce are dramatically increasing. For instance, in South Africa there were only 11 400 women in the mining workforce in 2002, today there are some 54 000 women in the workforce, which translates to 12% of the 453 000 total workforce. Despite being a critical core of the sector very few are owners and managers in the sector. Despite being key consumers and central to household expenditure decisions on mining beneficiation sectors such jewellery, their participation and ownership rates are also very low. Therefore, we must ensure greater women’s participation in such sectors for they can only trade what they grow, fish, mine, produce or beneficiate. Over and above skills, a key constraint to their participation has been access to financing. According to the McKinsey Power Parity Report, in Africa, 70% of women are financially excluded. Despite better repayment records several barriers are placed upon them in accessing loans. Although several institutions, most notably the African Development Bank and Afrexim Bank, have set up special funds to support women in business as well as export and import. These funds are mainly controlled by men, who sometimes impose mainstream and patriarchal approaches to women’s financing for development. It is time that we consider establishing a continental development and trade fund for women by women. Certainly, at a national level we have seen such funds succeed in some countries. In South Africa we have the Women’s Development Bank, which was established by Sis Zanele Mbeki. Therefore, the continental fund will have to be complemented by domestic women’s funds, which must receive full support of the Treasuries and the private sector. Because power is not given, it is taken. We must begin to actively lobby and advocate for women to be at the helm of the financial sector, which is the commanding height of our economies. It is telling that in the world there are only 14 female Central Bank Governors, even though 80% of the senior staff are women. Only 2 are in Africa in Seychelles and Lesotho. The situation is similar in the private sector. We cannot hope to finance women businesses unless women themselves are at the apex of decision making in the sector. Programme Director, the true condition for success of the implementation of AfCFTA is the will of Africa’s leaders to champion a policy that is responsive to gender and women’s empowerment. Thus we must use our gathering over the next two days to influence and hold accountable our governments. At the February Summit the AU Heads of State and Governments committed to including a Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade in the scope of the AfCTA Agreement. Thus, we must take stock on progress in this regard. I am therefore pleased to see that amongst the presenters today is the Secretary General of the AfCTA, His Excellency Mr Wamkele Mene. The Secretariat is charged with monitoring progress in such decisions. Programme Director, today’s gathering also offers us an opportunity to network amongst each other and further develop joint and coordinated actions in navigating potential opportunities for trade. In navigating those opportunities, we must develop our own programmes, which can place women at the forefront of the technological revolution in expandable sectors such as agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, renewable energy, and the blue oceans economy amongst others. This will require our own contributions to the skills revolution, as anticipated by Agenda 2063. Thus, those amongst us who have the knowledge, expertise and skills have the responsibility to lift with us others. We must dedicate ourselves to uplifting at least one individual or enterprise. If we all did that, then the sky is the limit. In doing that we dare not discard our culture and heritage. We must use it as the foundation of our approaches and initiatives. It can also be a source of our future wealth if we are able to better harness it. Ladies and gentlemen, as the covid-19 pandemic as well as recent disasters and calamities all over our continent have shown, our plans and programmes can be disrupted and retarded. We have also seen that our responses have a greater impact if they are women inclusive. If we are to prevent and minimise the effects of these disasters, we must bring women to the forefront in the equipping of our communities and nations to deal with the prevention and effects of disasters. Thus, our singular most important task is to ensure that nobody is left behind. To paraphrase Kwame Nkrumah at the inaugural OAU meeting “this task cannot be attached in the tempo of any other age than our own. To fall behind the unprecedented momentum of actions and events in our time will be to court failure…” I thank you and look forward to the outcomes of your expo and conference.