2009 will be the YEAR FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Angie Makwetla, the founder and chief executive of Makwetla and Associates, whose entrepreneurial career spans more than two decades, said business opportunities in the corporate sector are beginning to shrink for women.
"It is becoming more difficult for businesswomen focusing on corporate social responsibility projects to do business," Makwetla said.
"Corporate companies are cutting their budgets, making it difficult for business entrepreneurs to grow in this sector. They usually ask what's in it for them.
"These developments are forcing us businesswomen to start thinking creatively to stay in the game."
She cautioned women against starting businesses without proper business plans.
"Don't repeat other people's business ideas," she said. "Identify a niche that is unique and focus on it.
"Don't just start an events company without thinking who you're selling your product to."
Makwetla said while the government has created opportunities for women, access to information still remained a major challenge for most of them.
"Information is not easily obtainable, not on finance, as most women believe. Women should be proactive.
"They must go out and get relevant information and skills that can be aimed at projects that are relevant and can empower other people.
"My goal for 2009 is to come up with serious job creation projects and to assist women to form cooperatives that will establish and run projects aimed at making a possibility," she said.
"The elections are likely to make 2009 challenging. New ministers might want new directors-general and also to put their own stamp on departments.
This might mean reviews of programmes, which could result in some being dropped while new programmes are introduced.
Lisa Vetten, a researcher and policy analyst at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, said: "It could cause considerable disruption as civil servants attempt to meet new political priorities.
"It is not clear how much of a priority gender will be but there is a good chance that attention to gender issues will be reduced to simply meeting quotas and counting how many women are in positions of authority."
Vetten said she expected the national policy framework, mandated by the Sexual Offences Act, along with directives for prosecuting sexual offences and addressing the health needs of rape survivors to be tabled in Parliament this year.
"The national policy framework must set out government policy around the provision of services to rape survivors, mechanisms for holding government departments accountable and indicators for assessing what departments are achieving.
"We expect to see a dramatic improvement on how cases of rape and domestic violence are dealt with by the departments of health, justice and social development and the police.
"Parliament needs to actively engage with women's organisations on how these departments are serving survivors of rape and domestic violence," she said.
Also expected to be reviewed this year is the eradication of poverty and its impact on gender, Vetten said.
"It is essential that all efforts to eradicate poverty be firmly grounded in a gender analysis that pays attention to how poverty may differ between men and women, and put in appropriate measures that don't ignore the gender dimensions of poverty," she said.
WOMEN IN POLITICS
Angie Motshekga, president of the ANC Women's League, said she expected 2009 to be a good year for all women.
"As 2009 is an election year I foresee most political parties putting more emphasis on women since women are the majority voters. This means that we will have more women getting into politics and involved in influential structures and positions. Emphasis will also be placed on gender issues.
"As women's league we will be pushing for a review of the gender machinery in 2009 since we believe that it is not effectively dealing with gender issues," she said.
WOMEN AND GROOMING
The year 2009 is about form and function internationally, said image consultant China Mngomezulu.
"This means that people should wear clothes that fit. Wearing baggy clothes in a professional environment is not professional.
Looking good in the workplace is going to be a priority for success in the new year," Mngomezulu said.
She said the look could be achieved by investing in a good business wardrobe.
"As a career woman you have to project a professional appearance at all times and be aware of styles and trends. This does not mean that you have to take the trends in the runway to the office," she warned.
HOW TO ACHIEVE THE 2009 CLASSIC LOOK
"Dress to impress. Remember that first impressions last," said Mngomezulu.
lWear tailored jacket, dress and pants.
lA pencil skirt is a must
lA black classic suit is another must-have.
lWear soft coloured tops.
lScarves are big in 2009.
lInvest in beautiful dresses.
lInvest in good quality accessories, shoes and handbags.
lA good quality watch is also a must.
"Wear minimal and subtle accessories in the workplace," said Mngomezulu.
lKeep a tailor's number in your address book.
lPay attention to your hair and nails. Keep your hair away from the face and always keep nails short. Use a neutral nail polish.
lMake-up should be light and give you a natural look.
"Older women should avoid using dark lipstick. It makes you look older," said Mngomezulu.
lKeep an extra toothbrush in your handbag for oral hygiene.
"It is advisable to brush your teeth after a spicy lunch," she said.
lWear colours that suit your skin tone and a subtle perfume.
lBuy good quality underwear. A good fitting bra is a must. Measure your breasts regularly," said Mngomezulu.