Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has encouraged young people to explore career opportunities in the oceans economy.
"Given this enormous diversity available through the oceans economy, there are several value chains from which women can leverage opportunities for jobs, develop entrepreneurships, and build their businesses," Dlamini Zuma said on Monday in Cape Town.
South Africa has a coastline that spans about 2 800 kilometers from Namibia to Mozambique.
Addressing young women who had an opportunity to visit the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Military Naval Base in Simon's Town, the Minister emphasised that the ocean resource presents various opportunities, which can be commodified for economic development.
In an effort to demonstrate the opportunities for women in the sector, learners from various schools toured a shipyard at the Military Naval Base as part of Women's Month activities that showcased the role of women in the maritime sector.
The tour was followed by presentations from officials from who work in maritime security, hydrography, as well submarines. This exercise provided an in-depth understanding of the oceans economy.
"Boat builders are required to construct small and large vessels once these vessels are designed by engineers. Maintenance technicians across various disciplines such as mechanical, electrical and others are required to ensure the ships and their equipment run optimally. Marine biologists are required to point out where the best fishing spots are. The fishing nets used by the trawlers need to be made," Dlamini Zuma said.
She said that all young people, particularly women, should grow up with a firm understanding of three primary sub-sectors, namely, shipping and transport, marine resources and marine tourism.
"We need a skills revolution which draws from Operation Phakisa to cover all the primary, secondary and tertiary economic activities within the Oceans Economy. We also need a curriculum trains them in the value chain of the four secondary industry sub-sectors," the Minister said.
These include operational support services, which comprise shipping logistics and marine technologies; manufacturing and construction (including civil engineering, marine manufacturing, ship repair and maintenance), as well as business services, which incorporates maritime specialised professionals within the banking, legal, insurance, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and the consulting domain.
Operation Phakisa focuses on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa's oceans, which could contribute up to R177 billion to the GDP by 2033 and between 800 000 and one million direct jobs.
"As a department, we have adopted an all-of-society approach to livelihoods restoration and wealth creation toward empowering women, youth and persons with disabilities. This involves a partnership with the SANDF to establish a National Service where young people will be trained across various disciplines, including the oceans economy.
"Let us make the call to the country to join us in supporting and implementing meaningful programmes, plans, policies, strategies and interventions geared towards unlocking barriers of entry for young girls and women, and the largely unemployed population," the Minister said.
This year's Women's Month is celebrated under the theme, 'Accelerating Socio-Economic Opportunities for Women's Empowerment'. The theme highlights the need to ensure that all women have access to participate equally in all areas of human endeavor.
Oppression of women
Despite various strides which have been achieved toward improving the status of women in society, Dlamini Zuma said the systemic oppression of women over time has left almost indelible marks that need redress.
"In the South African context, women in rural areas and the townships bear the most burden of generational systemic oppression. It is tragic that on the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment plaguing our country, women are the most affected.
"Violence in this country is gendered, with statistics from the South African Police Service indicating that about nine women are murdered daily, with countless others being sexually violated, abused and subjected to all manner of atrocities.
"Women continue to be paid far less than men for work of equal value. Women face food insecurity yet the majority of farm workers in Africa are women who do not own the land they labour and eat the crumbs that fall from the tables of those who own the means of production," Dlamini Zuma said.
She noted that the World Bank's 2023 report on 'Women, Business and the Law' reiterates that empowering women is a prerequisite for economic development.
"It is equally important to prioritise empowering the girl-child, particularly as today's girls are tomorrow's women. The success of any meaningful attempt to grow South Africa together hinges on ensuring that women, particularly those who have been systematically oppressed, are able to participate equally in all areas of human endeavor, specifically in the mainstream economy," the Minister said.
Source: SA News