Women’s Day – putting women at the forefront of the development sector in South Africa

This year’s theme is: “Women's Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment: Building Back Better for Women's Improved Resilience”. Generation Equality, as a concept, is a global campaign, linking South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.


Few topics have received as much attention in the development sector in recent years as gender. Yet, despite the United Nations panel discussions, reports, and even financial commitments, the 2022 SDG Gender Index shows little improvement in gender equality around the world between 2015 and 2020.


Despite all our efforts, this should come as no surprise. From the pandemic to war and climate change, data and experience show that women are disproportionately affected. Social and economic setbacks leave women and girls in societally weaker positions than men and boys.


When climate change causes droughts, women and girls walk further and longer to fetch water. When access to healthcare, clean water and electricity is inadequate, maternal mortality rates increase. When economies come under pressure, women in informal jobs are more likely to lose their livelihoods. Moreover, girls are more likely to lose their access to education, continuing this cycle.


Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) collaborates with organisations that identify gender equality as key drivers of their development policies and benefits. This approach to gender is firmly rooted in the recognition of the need to ensure gender equity. AFD’s financial commitments have been devoted to projects that have gender equality as a principal or significant objective.


In South Africa, these programmes range from supporting the social empowerment of women through conservation initiatives, to upskilling women as game developers and animators and archivists.

To support the biodiversity sector, Conservation International, through the Pronature Enterprises Project, supported by AFD, aims to achieve environmental impact through nature-friendly enterprises that put women at the forefront as beneficiaries and environmental custodians. A variety of enterprises owned and led by women in two implementation sites of the project, namely the Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere and Mvenyane village, Eastern Cape contribute to rangeland restoration and protection of natural resources. Activities these enterprises engage in include the sustainable management of livestock and waste management through recycling solutions that promote the health of the rangelands, while providing crafts to the tourism industry.