An officially endorsed organization has been launched to advance woman’s interests in the South African defence sector. The South African Woman in Defence (SAWID) initiative was launched at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show at Waterkloof Air Force Base earlier this week.
Speaking at the launch event, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said there was no reason that one of the next heads of the four armed services should not be a woman. The minister said she wanted to see double the number of woman owned companies at AAD in two years; time, but did not mention figures.
SAWID founding President, Celia Malahlela, said woman were treated in the defence industry as if they did not exist, and often found their views were ignored.
The vision of SAWID is to represent, support, empower and advance women’s interests in the defence industry. Help for African woman in conflict zones is also envisaged by SAWID. The group will embark on a skills development drive and has plans for a mentoring programme.
Malahlela said the number of women in critical defence industry positions is below 20 percent and only 15 percent of the defence budget is spent on female owned business.