CAPE TOWN - South Africa's Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission is set to host its first empowerment conference in Gauteng province on Friday to promote awareness on opportunities for women.

The conference will be held under the theme “Advancing Women Economic Empowerment through the B-BBEE Act” and will be addressed by trade and industry minister Rob Davies.

Speakers will focus on opportunities available for black women, eradicating barriers to economic participation and increasing women's participation on the boards and ownership structures of companies and government entities.

One of the objectives of the B-BBEE Act is to increase the extent to which black women own and manage existing and new enterprises, while increasing their access to economic activities, infrastructure and skills training.

“To achieve this, black women must have access to financial and non-financial assistance to acquire stakes in companies or to start their own businesses, and be able to sustain them,” the department of Trade and Industry spokesman Sidwell Medupe said.

A recent report showed black women ownership on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) sits at 9 percent, a regression from 10.32 percent in 2016.

The target set in the Codes of Good Practice for black women representation on boards is at 25 percent, but the report released by the B-BBEE Commission indicates that this is only at 18 percent for companies listed on the JSE, including foreign nationals, despite women being the majority in South Africa.

White males continue to dominate, occupying 58 percent of board positions while black males account for 20 percent.

The target audience for the conference includes women's organisations, female-owned businesses, women in government, non-government organisations and associations, tertiary and Grade 12 students, people with disabilities and the youth, who have have been identified as lagging behind in accessing economic opportunities.

- African News Agency (ANA)