Seminar: Advancing women’s rights through public infrastructure procurement

Despite vast progress in the field of women’s rights, women still experience extreme discrimination in the form of gender pay gaps in workplaces, gender-based violence and harassment and time poverty due to unpaid domestic work. Women in rural areas travel long distances to access fuel and water, they suffer from air pollution caused by heating for the purpose of cooking and cleaning and are in danger based on a lack of lighting at public transport areas and outside public bathrooms. The latter indicates that infrastructure in South Africa does not adequately provide for the needs for women.

Public infrastructure is acquired by way of public procurement, which constitutes approximately 22% of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With infrastructure being the bedrock of any country, the procurement of infrastructure holds tremendous economic significance. For the last two to three
decades, procurement has been leveraged to advance many social objectives, including the advancement of women-owned businesses. However, this topic in particular has seen slow development the world over.

This seminar will be based on an upcoming collaborative paper between the academy and practice in the form of UNISA, George Washington University International and Comparative Law Studies and International Budget Partnership South Africa where solutions to advancing women’s rights in infrastructure procurement will be considered. Sanitation access in South Africa’s informal
settlements will be explored as a case for gender-inclusive procurement.

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