'Women are hard done by'

The call for women's empowerment in Africa still has to be answered, Graça Machel said in Johannesburg yesterday.

The call for women's empowerment in Africa still has to be answered, Graça Machel said in Johannesburg yesterday.

"Aside from South Africa, where there is a BEE strategy, on the African continent there are very few women involved in the formal economy," Machel, who is international advocate for women's rights, told the Investec Conference for Young Women in Finance.

She said while women had made advancements in the political arena in Africa, this was not so in business.

In many parts of Africa there were no women in mining and no women managing large budgets, she said. Machel called on the delegates to make an important contribution, not only to South Africa, but to Africa itself.

She said South Africa was one of the most unequal societies in the world, having both extremes of wealth and poverty. She reminded delegates that finance was an area still dominated by men, both in and outside of South Africa.

"It is important that women be active in our economy to change the ethics of business and to reflect fairness," Machel said.

She told the delegates that women should assert themselves to break stereotypes and that though women in South Africa were now well-respected in business, "socially they're not taken as equals". "Nothing can justify you being treated as inferior," she said. - Sapa

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