The government needs to ensure that gender neutrality is promoted in the business sector, according to Institute of Justice researcher Busi Sibeko.
She believed the government lacked in this department, and as a result many women struggled with equality.
She also pointed out that women were the hardest hit by economic austerity measures.
Sibeko was speaking at the Commission for Gender Equality webinar on the challenges facing women’s economic empowerment.
She said there was a lack of systematic measures in macroeconomic policies to ensure equity.
“Women are part of the economic infrastructure and we do not benefit because macroeconomics is based on what is called homo economics, the assumption that there is a male at the middle of the economy, and we don’t take into consideration the labour that women do to reproduce the labour and we don’t think about activities beyond the market,” she said.
“Systematically, women are excluded from the economy based on how we perceive the economy or how the economy functions, and the reproductive work is limited to households and men are the ones who are supposed to get the wages.
“In our country, our fiscal policy is not gender-responsive, so it does not correct these systematic failures, and it doesn’t take into account how women are disadvantaged,” she said.
Sibeko said that even though the government did provide measures to support women, they were not enough.
“Holistically speaking, government does not speak to women’s needs. It assumes the macroeconomic aggregate, it assumes that women and men are impacted the same way by the budget.”
Sibeko also lashed out at the austerity measures announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni during his Mid-Term Budget Policy Speech earlier this year.
“Austerity as research has shown that austerity measures have a distributional impact particularly on women, and it has been revealed that women are the ones who bear the costs of austerity, and women who rely on social services to survive are the ones who are impacted more,” she said.
Also, in this context, women needed more than financing to run a business.
Sibeko said the state needed fiscal policy that would challenge the power of imbalance.
“If you can’t challenge the power dynamics between men and women, you’re actually just never going to win,” she said.
Vutivi is a digital business news platform that will serve the Small Medium Micro Enterprises in the form of writing stories that will be informative about their sector. We pledge to deliver a commercially sustainable, world-class digital financial and business news service that is a must-read while being responsive to readership needs and tailor-making packages for SMMEs.