Jennifer Schreiner

Jennifer Schreiner has seen South African women progress immensely over the past 21 years

but as DirectorGeneral (DG) of the Department of Women, she is under no illusions that much more must be done to advance the interests of women.

“We have made enormous progress in the empowerment of women but we are not there yet.

After all, we are only 21 years old. It takes time to transform society and we are making good progress,” she told PSM during a recent interview.

Schreiner served as a Member of Parliament between 1994 and 1997, and therefore appreciates the increasing number of women who now occupy seats in Parliament and are part of Cabinet.

“The women who serve there are empowered and women of calibre; they are not just there because of their gender.

 In the public sector we have made signifi cant progress as well. Gender mainstreaming is a focal point which has made an impact,” she notes.

Decade of African women Schreiner points out that economic empowerment must be at the centre of eff orts to improve the lives and status of women.

This is an issue the African Union (AU) is also cognisant of. “We are in the midst of the AU Decade of Empowerment for Women and the theme is the economic empowerment of women,” she says.

The AU declared 2010 to 2020 as the “Decade of African Women” with various annual themes.

The AU recently held a Summit of Heads of State, which included a high-level panel meeting of AU Ministers in charge of gender and women’s affairs.

The theme of the meeting was “Make it Happen through the Financial Inclusion of Women in the Agribusiness Sector”.

Schreiner says the theme of the discussion is critical to the development of women.

It is important that government departments and state entities dealing with the agricultural sector prioritise women’s issues in their work, ensuring that the agricultural policy action plan is in line with empowering women, she adds.

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