As borders between countries become smaller and narrower, nations look to strengthening their global competitiveness to ensure they can access global markets for, among others tourism, foreign direct investment and skills. Every country that embarks on such an exercise must realise that no country operates in vacuum, and other countries are equally trying to grow the equity of their respective nation brand. Lynette Ntuli takes a look.
South Africa has realised that it must be vigilant in growing the equity of its nation brand and safeguarding its reputation as it strengthens its competitive advantages in the global marketplace. As part of our determination to help improve our competitiveness, we have highlighted social cohesion and social equity as critical to this.
Vulnerability, as a concept, can seem overly broad and abstract. After all, most people and most societies at different levels of development are vulnerable in many ways to adverse events and circumstances, not all of which can be anticipated or prevented. But vulnerability as a concept can become less abstract when broken down into who is vulnerable, what are they vulnerable to and why.
Vulnerability, according to the UNDP 2014, reduces the individual’s ability to manage their affairs and that weakens the foundations of society. It looks at groups of people who are structurally the most vulnerable and why this is so. Structural vulnerability is rooted in people’s position in society —their gender, ethnicity, race, job type or social status —and evolves and persists over long periods.
According to the UNDP South Africa ranks 94 with the total value of 0.461 when it comes to Gender Inequality. Women’s representation in parliament accounts for about 41.1 g and the population with secondary education (25 years of age and above) is 72.7 while their male counterpart’s score is 75.9. Labour force participation is 44.2 compared to that of males at 60.0 – a significant gap in a democratic society such as ours. Children (0-14) who live with HIV account for 410 000 of the population. HIV prevalence amongst the youth (15-24) stands at 13.9 for female youth and 3.9 for male youth for instance.
A key facet of vulnerability is often an inability to influence decisions that affect one’s life. At the heart of true development is the choice to decide about the direction of your own life.
This requires, the UNDP suggests, among other things, giving the poor and marginalised a greater voice in decision making and opportunities for recourse when rights are violated or discrimination is encountered. Research suggests that women are more likely than men to suffer from negligence, petty corruption and harassment when they engage with state institutions.
How does this relate to competitiveness?
Among others, a country’s competitiveness requires the efficient use of human (men and women alike) and natural resources. In the case of South Africa, one often thinks of Vision 2030 and various national human development goals aimed at tackling poverty and unemployment among other key national priorities.
The successful implementation of the National Development Plan will be reflected in a situation where women and children are no longer vulnerable to any form of abuse. This will not only impact on the development of our country, but will also increase equity between men and women, ultimately contributing to our reputation as a nation. We must therefore all play our part to stop the spread and acceptance of abuse, one person at a time. Count me in!
Lynette Ntuli is a Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador
IMAGE: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com
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