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Creating opportunities for women to find employment or start their own sustainable businesses represents a huge opportunity to transform Africa’s economic future, one that KFC, in partnership with Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), is working hard to unlock.

Every year, in August, South Africa commemorates Women’s Month, where the country pays tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of discriminatory Pass Laws to women. For many South Africans, the month also symbolises the indomitable and resilient spirit of South African women folk.

This year marks the 67th Anniversary since the march to the Union Buildings to petition against the pass laws of the country at the time. “Strike a woman and you strike a rock.” These words from the Women’s March have come to symbolise the courage and strength of South African women who refused to give in to increasing apartheid-era oppression and today still lead the way in seeking greater equality and opportunity for all in society.

Women form the heart of our communities, both in urban and rural areas and often time carry the burden of poverty and inequality.

This year, the Women’s Month theme Is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” celebrating the women and girls who are leading the way in the development of transformational technology and digital education. This is an opportunity for businesses to come together to support mentor, coach and empower women using technology, understand their need and provide them with business skills development and small business incubation programmes.

According to UN Women, globally women are less likely than men to have access to financial institutions or a bank account, bear a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work, and face greater hurdles in starting their own business. Yet, the benefits of including women in the economy are substantial.

The South African Government says this year’s Women’s Month allows us to gauge how far we have come in transforming society, particularly the transformation of unequal power relations between women and men. This, while also focusing on and addressing gender oppression, patriarchy, sexism, racism, ageism, structural oppression, and creating a conducive environment which enables women to take control of their lives.

We are growing sustainably, because we are doing business the right way and re-investing in our communities. We are making bold commitments in supporting in particular women and youth. When communities are strong, we win together as businesses.

No one individual or organisation can solve all our country’s problems, but working together in partnership, we can solve the challenges of inequality and unemployment. Partnerships are very important to us – communities, government, industry bodies – all with the aim of the best outcomes for all.

We understand that our business can only thrive when the communities we serve thrive too. Investing in communities ensures our business sustainability. Most of all, we are all Africans and are part of our communities.

This is why at CCBSA we have made Economic Inclusion one of the pillars of our Sustainability Strategy.

We define Economic Inclusion as opening gainful economic opportunities to under-served communities by providing access to markets that boost income and yield decent and sustainable earnings, whilst leveraging the business and the industry. As such, CCBSA and KFC are working collaboratively to give meaning to sustainable socio-economic development.

Reflecting on the KFC and CCBSA journey and the crucial ingredients in how we’ve navigated building a successful relationship with each other lies within a joint commitment to equality, diversity and flexibility. Each member leads by example and have a commitment to the goals at hand, driven by shared values. Our partnership forms the stones on which to build, develop and grow and the adhesive mortar is the mutual trust and respect we have for each other.

When we grow our business the right way, not just the easy way, we help create inclusive growth opportunities for our communities, women and youth, our customers, our employees and our shareholders, for a better shared future.

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