Launching the South African Women in Defence (SAWiD) association here at AAD this week, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula called for greater involvement of women in the defence sector.
Of the 78 companies that are members of AMD, the industry association, only six are female-owned, with only two of those exhibiting at AAD 2018. This is despite AMD having been established for 25 years.
"This means that if we go by the current trends, it may take us another 25 years to get to at least 10 companies," the minister said. While the defence sector has traditionally been male dominated, it does not mean it should remain so, according to the minister.
"Without making it a mirror of the SANDF, we unavoidably have to urge the sector to up their game and become transformative in so far as women ownership and representation is concerned," she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula called for the partnership between the Department of Defence and AMD to be fostered further.
"It is fitting that we are establishing an association of women in the defence industry at this edition of AAD 2018. Hopefully when we stage the next AAD exhibition in 2020, we will have at the very least double the number of women-owned companies," she said.
The defence minister also urged women in uniform who are nearing retirement or are already military veterans, to consider business opportunities in the defence sector of which they have experience. While acknowledging that being in business was not easy, because it requires a great deal of courage and resilience, there was no reason not to venture into business.
"We need more companies to emerge and to enable the growth of the existing ones," Mapisa-Nqakula said.