Fund will empower women

Women will soon benefit from a savings fund especially created for them.

Women will soon benefit from a savings fund especially created for them.

The proposed fund was announced last week to coincide with the Sixteen Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.

The fund, to be governed by women and focus on their specific needs, will be established under the auspices of the Presidential Working Group on Women (PWGW), a working committee set up by President Thabo Mbeki, to focus on social and economic issues facing women.

PWGW is made up of leading business women, labour and nongovernmental organisations.

Gloria Serobe, who represents Women in Business and is chairman of PWGW, says statistics on the socioeconomic status of women necessitated the establishment of the fund because:

l About 87percent of widowed or divorced women over 60 are dependent on their children or on welfare.

l About 60percent of women over 55 are left destitute after their husbands died.

lIn more than 42 percent of families, women are the chief breadwinners.

Serobe says: "The purpose of the fund is to influence the economy by harnessing the collective power of women's current retirement savings to create a greater role for them."

The fund will aim to:

l Develop investment mandates that meet the needs of women, such as investing in companies that promote gender equality, activities that are not harmful to women and target socially responsible investments that enhances their development.

l Provide financial education, financial literacy support and appropriate tools to help women arrive at their financial decisions.

l Provide access to life assurance, disability and other financial instruments that meet the needs of women.

l The fund is also geared at providing greater access to savings through increasing coverage for rural women, domestic workers, farmworkers and single parents.

Serobe says that many women are trapped in abusive relationships because of economic dependence and the fund is a mechanism to redress this.