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T Xasa: Interactive Young Women's Dialogue
Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa

Programme Director, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman

Young women around the globe possess the collective power to change their lives, their communities and the world we live in. Just as they face daily challenges, young women are continually developing innovative, effective ways to improve their lives. By bringing together their wisdom and creativity, young women are leading change. Understanding that investing in young women’s leadership is essential to social change now and for the future.

Empowering Young Women to Lead Change is designed to support the development of young women’s skills and to enable them to provide leadership on the issues that concern them. It is important to ensure that young women are in leadership positions and they are given latitude to have meaningful participation in decision-making.

I would like to highlight the key principles for working with and enabling young women


Show respect and have faith in young women’s leadership and their ability to overcome challenges. Give them the space and support to lead.


Be inclusive and engage young women for solutions to the problems we face. Ensure that they are involved in making decisions that affect their lives.

Peer learning

Young women are most receptive to learning life skills from other young women. Allow space for young women to collaborate and learn from each other.  Also, the best way to empower a women is to lead by example.

Young women have developed minds and are continuing to explore and question.  Be creative and open-minded and respect and encourage young women’s creative problem solving.


Young women learn best by doing. Provide opportunities for experiential learning. Allow them to take risks and learn from mistakes.


Young women are exactly that – young. Allow them the latitude to laugh and enjoy themselves. Young women appreciate the value of a good time, even when hard at work for social change.
(Source: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA, Empowering Young Women to Lead Change, 2006).

So why should we develop young women’s leadership?  How is it different from any other leadership? Young women often reject the label of victim and recognise that living with challenges makes them the best qualified to lead change and provide solutions for those situations.

Young Women are change agents and their leadership can bring vitality, creativity and courage for social change. They have the power to inspire and mobilise others for positive action. They can encourage the questioning of systems and beliefs that limit lives and choices. With courage they can confront even the injustices that have been in place long before our lives began. By our leadership,  young women ensure that social change will not stop when the generation before us is no more, but only when peace, justice, health, human dignity and care for the environment has been achieved everywhere, and for everyone. By supporting each other, young women ensure that their leadership remains strong in the face of unfair gender and age biases, and maximise their power to change. As we continue to develop and define our leadership, the advice and example of older, more experienced women are invaluable. By working together, women of all ages can help each other grow, maximise our strengths and fulfil our potential as change makers.

Empowerment happens when girls and women possess real power to transform their future and the world around them. Young women should be supported to gain self-confidence, with tools for healthy living, social-emotional literacy, avenues to economic opportunity, cultural engagement, creative expression, and nourishing connections with peers and seasoned mentors. Each young woman must receive support and self-trust to develop her unique vision and be given latitude to gather the tools to make meaningful decisions that shape organisations and impact communities and cultural systems.

Tourism is a pivotal contributor the economy and has been identified by as an economic pillar by government. The South African Tourism Sector represents more than 9% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), and an estimated 1.4. Million jobs are created by this sector. In 2011, the National Department of Tourism (NDT) conducted a study to assess the state of transformation in the tourism sector. The study found, inter alia, that although 75% of workforce comprises of women, there was a low percentage of women at board and executive management levels of large enterprises. Only 12% of large tourism enterprises achieved 50% target for management and control of tourism businesses by women.

Tourism has the potential to contribute to greater gender equality and the empowerment of women, in line with the Third Millennium Development Goals. The majority of people employed in tourism worldwide are women, both in formal and informal jobs. Tourism offers women opportunities for income-generation and entrepreneurship. But there are challenges too.  Women are concentrated in the lowest paid, lowest skilled sectors of the industry and carry out a large amount of unpaid work in family tourism businesses and they are not well represented in the highest levels of employment and management of the tourism industry. So how do we redress this?

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental components of just, equitable societies. UNWTO believes that tourism can provide pathways to empowerment, and that the opportunity for tourism to make a difference in this area should be maximized

Governments and international organisations are committed to gender equality through a series of commitments: the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal 3. In business it’s important to act with authenticity and integrity, owning ones imperfections

Issues women need to concern themselves with is the feminisation of poverty and masculinity of wealth. This continues to bar women from accessing opportunities to participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy. In hospitality women have a star opportunity as they have a natural advantage over men, being better at paying attention to detail, and being better organised

To succeed women need to appreciate the power of working as a team and partnership. To make an impression introduce yourself well and set the playing from the beginning without leaving doubt about the person you are. It makes it easier for people to engage you. Prepare well when making presentation and know that no one will come and select you for an opportunity but you'll have to search for them or create them.

When engaging on business especially for funding or partnership, come well prepared, have a product, understanding of your market and channels to take the product to market.

I recently attended a Women in Tourism Conference in Malawi to ensure that legislations and Policies in Southern Africa address inequality in the sharing of power, sustainability and poverty alleviation through tourism.  And shortly before that, we had our second annual Women in Tourism conference in South Africa. The scene is being set, the tools are made available. We are just waiting for you to join us.

It is therefore significant potential for tourism to be used as a pivotal tool in the empowerment of women from both the urban and rural areas. It is important to include women from rural areas as the majority of tourism resources in Southern Africa are natural and cultural, and these are found in the communal and rural areas.

This is what my department is doing to enable women:

To foster inclusive economic development and social transformation, the department gazetted (through the Department of Trade and Industry) the amended Tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Sector Code in November 2015, which is the implementation framework for the B-BBEE policy in the tourism sector. The Tourism B-BBEE Charter Council (the Council) was established in 2012 by the Minister of Tourism to drive the implementation of the Tourism B-BBEE Charter and score card in an endeavour to rapidly advance economic transformation of the tourism sector against the sector targets. Through consultation with the tourism stakeholders, the Council has developed the amended Tourism B-BBEE Sector Codes with new and improved targets and more bias towards women with respect to ownership and control of tourism enterprises, skills development and enterprise and supplier development.

At the other end of the spectrum, the department has invested funds in the construction of a successful community owned and operated products across the country. To further advance the empowerment of women, the department has developed an Executive Management Development programme in partnership with the South African Business School, targeted at the participation of women in the mainstream economy. The goal of the programme is to equip black female managers for Top and Senior Management (executive) positions in tourism organisations, prepare women to become entrepreneurs who will contribute to changing the ownership patterns in the sector and to contribute to the creation of black industrialists.

Young people are also being trained as chefs, sommeliers and food safety assurers, and there are skills development initiatives to change the face of travel agencies and tour guiding. Our investment in skills development and training is essential to create a solid base of young, well qualified black people who will be equipped with the necessary skills to both advance into management positions (which is an essential part of the transformation of the industry), and to be better prepared to be the business owners and entrepreneurs of the future.

Apart from providing opportunities for skills development and training, the National Department of Tourism through its partnership with the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) focuses on a number of transformational objectives, including the development of women through support programmes such as business support, market access, access to information and access to finance and others. The ongoing development support of the Tourism Enterprise Partnership, as indicated in the overall figures below is targeted at a minimum of 45% women and women-owned businesses. At present TEP’s database of over 3 500 SMMEs consists of more than 45% women-owned businesses.

TEP has, in partnership with the Department, developed and implemented a successful small, medium and micro enterprise development programme. This partnership, which is co-funded by the department and TEP has delivered successful results over the past 14 years.

We have a newly- formed Tourism Incentive Programme fund aimed at creating market access towards Small, Micro and Medium-sized Enterprises and women are encouraged to use this programme.

We have established the Lilizela Awards to celebrate tourism companies which are doing more to contribute to socio-economic development, transformation and responsible tourism. The country is seeing the rise in the number of women who continue to get top awards in the sector annually, which suggests that government transformation and empowerment initiatives are indeed beginning to bear fruits.

The establishment of the Women in Tourism (WiT) forum, which is aimed at addressing the economic inequalities and challenges faced by women within the sector.  The WIT agenda is centred on ‘Commanding Respect, ascertaining Recognition of women contribution in the sector, encouraging Representation in economic activities and leadership, and producing Results which will enhance the supply and demand for domestic tourism. We just had our second successful conference

Women are stepping up to own and run businesses at a very rapid pace. Even though women-owned businesses are still a minority, a concentration on these women owned enterprises has been recognised in the tourism sector.  Government looks to entrepreneurship as a critical river of growth and job creation. High value is attached to South African policies which are focused on entrepreneurship which encourages and supports the success of many businesses and ventures.

I thank you.