His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday, 02 March 2021, held virtual bilateral discussions with Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands to deepen cooperation on advancing economic inclusion for women in Africa. Queen Máxima participated in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
The leaders also discussed tangible actions to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women in Africa as a cornerstone of COVID-19 response and recovery.
During yesterday’s online discussion, UNSGSA Queen Máxima sought to understand what key challenges African women face in accessing financial services, and what programmes South Africa and the African Union were currently implementing to address these challenges.
Queen Máxima stressed her keenness to advance the agenda for women’s financial and economic inclusion in her capacity as UN Special Advocate; as well as in relation to the G7 Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa.
The UNSGSA emphasized the importance of digital public goods to accelerate women’s financial inclusion in Africa. Examples of such goods include connectivity, regulation supportive of digital financial services, digital ID, and robust financial consumer protection measures.
President Ramaphosa expressed South Africa’s continued commitment to fighting gender-based violence and advancing the economic inclusion of women.
The President highlighted four main challenges African women face in relation to financial inclusion: lack of suitable and affordable financial services for women on the margins of society, the significant challenge of COVID-19 which has been a setback for both women as well as the roll-out of AU programmes, gender-based violence which continues to be an impediment to women’s empowerment in the region, and a lack of access to technology and digital infrastructure for women in the margins.
The President conveyed some of the fundamental steps that South Africa has embarked upon including the development of the Financial Inclusion Policy as a national policy that will ensure that 40% of public procurement is in favour of women.
President Ramaphosa and UNSGSA Queen Máxima agreed on the need to work together to achieve their shared goal of women economic and digital emancipation and committed to meet again to further concretise collaboration and coordination.
Queen Máxima aims to work with President Ramaphosa and other African Union leaders to champion and address key challenges to the empowerment of women in Africa.