Thank you, hon Chair. This is an official language.
Re le mokgatlho wa ANC, re tshegetsa tekanyetsokabo eno ... [As the ANC, we support this Budget Vote ...]
... because we have a commitment we have made to the people of South Africa. We have committed ourselves to pushing back the frontiers of poverty and improving the lives of our people.
Hon Robinson, let me share with you the good stories that this government has produced, because it seems as if you are only focusing on the negatives and forgetting that there are positives that this government has produced. As we celebrate 20 years of our democracy, we want to thank this ANC for work well done in terms of gender equality.
South Africa's progress with regard to gender equality is evident within both the international and regional indices. In the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index, Sigi, of the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development, OECD, South Africa ranked fourth out of 87 countries and was the top-ranked country in Africa. On the SADC Gender and Development Index, SGDI, South Africa ranked second in 2012, and on the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index, WEF GGGI, South Africa has consistently remained in the upper levels, reaching sixth position.
Yo o nang le ditsebe o tla utlwa, mme yo o nang le matlho o tla bona gore naga ya rona ke naga e e dirang. [Those with ears will hear and those with eyes will see that we are a country that works.]
Together, we move will South Africa forward, and yes, South Africa is a better place to stay and to live in.
There has been steady progress since the advent of democracy in South Africa, where women are occupying positions of power in every corner of society. This has come about as a result of the impact of the programmes of change and the attention paid, in particular, to those who occupied the lowest rungs on the apartheid social and economic ladder.
We are building a national democratic society, a society in which the oppression of women will be a relic of the past. In order for the ANC to fully reverse this historical, social and economic exclusion of women, it is dealing, through programmes, policy and legislation, with the creation of the material and cultural conditions that would allow for the full development of women.
A high percentage of women undertake low-skilled and low-wage employment. We understand that point. Women primarily serve as domestic labour and home- based caregivers. Women remain consistently underrepresented in high-skill and high-wage employment. Many women continue to operate in the informal trade sector, including informal cross-border trade. Statistics show that, overall, fewer women are employed. As a result, poverty in our country is highly gendered.
Female-headed households are generally much poorer than those headed by men, and are more likely to live on less than R570 a month. This is especially the case in the rural areas where I come from, thus rendering women more vulnerable to food insecurity. Lack of employment opportunities and the absence of an independent source of income mean that many women are forced to rely on their spouses, immediate family members, relatives or friends for survival.
I must say that the establishment and success of small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, including survivalists and co-operatives are globally recognised as critical to addressing the challenges of job creation, poverty alleviation, socioeconomic conditions and equality for all. This is especially the case in South Africa, where the role of SMMEs is vital in driving economic growth, employment, innovation and competitiveness.
It is estimated that South Africa has some 5,9 million SMMEs, which generate 40% of its GDP and 60% of employment in the country. Women enterprises are largely represented in SMMEs. Our government has also implemented various approaches to support these SMMEs by putting in place measures to reduce the tax compliance burden, providing dedicated credit facilities, establishing support and incubators, and diversifying procurement towards emerging enterprises, where possible. We must do a lot in this sector, Minister. We must be able to monitor the department responsible for this so that the women of this country benefit.
Today, we have the Small Enterprise Finance Agency, which is housed in the Industrial Development Corporation. This was initiated after the adoption of the New Growth Path, NGP, in 2010, which identified enterprise development as a key priority. The Small Enterprise Finance Agency's mandate is to foster the establishment, survival and growth of SMMEs and contribute towards poverty alleviation and job creation.
In the Department of Trade and Industry, we also have the Isivande Women's Fund. This is an exclusive fund that aims to accelerate women's economic empowerment by providing more affordable, usable and responsive finance to women. This women's fund targets formally registered, 60% women-owned and/or -managed enterprises that have been in existence and operating for two or more years, with a loan ranging from R30 000 to R2 million. We are also encouraging the women of this country to take heed of these opportunities created by the ANC-led government. The Bavumile Skills Development programme is also a women's empowerment initiative, aimed at enhancing talent in the arts and crafts and textile and clothing sectors among women. [Time expired.] [Applause.]