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The Gender and Women Empowerment (GWE) Unit is located within the Broadening Participation division (BPD) of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). The mandate of the unit is to provide targeted support to women enterprises through programmes and policies that ensure and accelerate the sustainable participation of women in the mainstream economy.

The GWE Unit has introduced various initiatives targeted at women, with the ultimate goal of developing sustainable enterprises that contribute to the country’s gross domestic product, employment, equity and economic transformation to enable women to have equal access to and control over economic resources.

The Unit aims to reverse the imbalances created by previous policies and programmes, which impacted negatively on women-owned enterprises and hindered their participation in the economy. Its role is to transform economic conditions and create an enabling environment for women enterprises.

The GWE Unit promotes, contributes to and provides:

  • Gender-sensitive policies and programmes for trade and industry;
  • Women-specific programmes;
  • Fosters networks, linkages and partnerships for strategic opportunities;
  • Lobbying and policy advocacy; and
  • Intensifies research in the area of women enterprises/gender equality to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented.

Through this Unit, the dti is tasked with the responsibility of championing women’s economic empowerment and participation, as well as ensuring that women-owned enterprises are integrated into the mainstream economic activity in South Africa. The Unit’s programmes address economic policy, skills development, access to finance and technology, youth development, building sustainable partnerships and play a role in ensuring that women are able to access economic markets.



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