The South African government has received a donation of R50 million from the United Kingdom (UK), which will be channelled towards projects supporting and promoting women’s empowerment.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Alvin Botes received the monetary donation and participated in a signing ceremony with the UK government on Monday.

The donation is aimed at extending the Solidarity Fund’s ongoing efforts to counter the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment.

The British High Commission has identified programmes responding to gender-based violence and women’s economic empowerment, small and medium enterprises.

The funding will be deployed to support two existing humanitarian pillar projects, namely the second intervention in gender-based violence support and farming input vouchers.

“We are elated that the Solidarity Fund recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has bestowed an additional burden on the marginalised women of South Africa. When jobs get lost, normally women are the first to face unemployment. When households endure strain because of a contracting economy, women bear the brunt of societal frustration.

“It therefore holds true that to remedy a nation and to recover economic fortunes, we should invest in women.

“To the British people, we wish to say ‘it is good to make new friends, but it is indeed better to keep old friends’,” said Botes upon receiving the donation.

The Deputy Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for increased international cooperation and a multilateral approach to solving the world’s biggest challenges.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed that the impact of transnational challenges may only be mitigated through multilateral responses, and through better interstate cooperation.

“South Africa and the United Kingdom maintain such strategic partnership within the framework of our bilateral relations, and we regard the UK as a reliable persona within the plethora of multilateral fora,” Botes said.

With the next 10 years identified as the decade of advancing women’s economic inclusion by the African Union under the stewardship of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the donation comes at an opportune time.

“This trilateral relationship between the South African government, the British High Commission and the Solidarity Fund serves as an important instrument to respond to the economic alienation of South Africa’s women.

“Our trilateral relationship demonstrates a shared commitment to harness the repository of both sState and non-State actors in fighting gender-based violence, which is a product of gender inequalities and patriarchy.

“Gender-based violence is the highest manifestation of sexist domination and it exists because patriarchy gave men an enormous symbolic and material power. This violence is a consequence of the construction of masculinity in patriarchal societies,” said the Deputy Minister.

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