Nedbank Private Wealth, The Graca Machel Trust and the Social Justice Initiative unpacked the pivotal role that social justice plays in helping South Africa build a stronger economy and a more integrated society.

Philanthropy has missed the proverbial ‘boat’ when it comes to investing in women’s economic empowerment programmes. And therein lies the rub. There can be no social justice without addressing the injustices that hold women back, whether in the home, or at work, or indeed, in the society we live in.

The SJI and Nedbank Private Wealth breakfast event in Hyde Park on 11 November 2016, at Summer Place, in Johannesburg, helped to create more awareness about the importance of South Africans investing in women’s economic advancement. Social justice advocate, Mrs Machel, was a special guest and participated in a panel discussion on the importance of supporting women’s economic empowerment. Bronwyn Nielsen facilitated the discussion held with Gender Links CEO, Colleen Lowe-Morna, the Business Woman of the Year (2015), Nonkululeko Gobodo, CEO of Nkululeko Leadership Consulting and Mrs Machel.

Gender Links CEO, Colleen Lowe-Morna presented the organisation’s award winning pilot programme, Empower Women:
End Violence, which shows a direct correlation between financial independence and Gender Based Violence (GBV). It tested the hypothesis that assumes women who stay in abusive relationships, do so out of financial dependency. The programme involved 1500 survivors in 10 countries in the SADC region and unequivocally demonstrated that Gender Based Violence can be substantially reduced or eliminated if survivors are financially empowered to take care of themselves.

The research indicates that of the respondents participating in the pilot programme over the first year, the average increase in monthly income in South Africa was R529 per participant. While 91% of the participants developed a business plan, 79% followed the plan, 66% have sustained their businesses and 41% opened a bank account for the first time. The panellists confirmed that the economic challenges facing South Africa and many other countries require new ways of thinking and assigning equal roles to women, so that the collective efforts of both men and women are bolstered towards building stronger economies. A report (1) by McKinsey shows that should women be given equal power to men, particularly in the sphere of boosting the economy – US$28 trillion (26%) would be added to the annual global Gross Domestic Product by 2025. The substantial increase in the GDP would be roughly equivalent to the value and size of the combined US and Chinese economies, at their present market value.


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