South Africa Multi-Country Office

The UN Women South Africa Multi Country Office (South Africa MCO) is based in Pretoria, South Africa and covers five countries - South Africa as a ‘presence country’ plus Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland. All five countries are members of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

In South Africa, the UN Women Country Programme contributes to the UN’s Strategic Cooperation Framework (SCF) to South Africa. The priority areas for the South Africa MCO are:

  • Women, especially the poorest and most excluded, are economically empowered and benefit from development.
  • Governance and national planning fully reflect accountability for gender equality commitments and priorities.
  • Women and girls live a life free from violence.
  • Peace, safety & Security and humanitarian action are shaped by women's leadership and participation.

As chair of the United Nations Gender Theme Group in South Africa, we work across the wider UN presence in South Africa to develop joint programming and promote adherence to national normative and policy frameworks for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

In other SACU countries where there is not a field presence, the South Africa MCO focuses on advocacy efforts and also collaborating with sister UN agencies to support wider UN programmes to ensure the integration of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) in UN Programming frameworks and to support UN coordination on GEWE. We also work on focused interventions in the SACU countries in collaboration with local partners.

Our programmes

Women, especially the poorest and most excluded, are economically empowered and benefit from development

The South Africa MCO aims to address barriers experienced by women that prevent them from fully and meaningfully participating in the economy.

Through global partnerships with The Coca-Cola Company and Intel®, we are participating in two programmes in South Africa, one which trains and supports women micro-entrepreneurs in relation to business skills development, and the other which seeks to improve the digital literacy skills of women.

We are also working to strengthen the development and implementation of gender responsive policies and services to increase women’s income earning abilities, their prospects for wealth creation, and reduce their vulnerability to the negative impact of climate change potential. In particular with the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, a project is underway to help propel the rural women’s agenda to the forefront of the climate change discourse in Southern Africa. This multi-faceted project includes bolstering women’s economic empowerment initiatives around clean energy development.

The South Africa MCO’s work in economic empowerment prioritizes engagement with particular sectors (agriculture and green economy, mining and trade). More broadly it engages with the private sector to promote GEWE through adoption of the Women Empowerment Principles and creation of opportunities for women.

Governance and national planning fully reflect accountability for gender equality commitments and priorities

The South Africa MCO’s work in this area is mainly focused on advocacy for gender responsive planning and budgeting working in partnership with the UN Country Teams in the SACU countries.

Women and girls live a life free of violence

The South Africa MCO aims to strengthen national responses and prevention mechanisms to reduce violence against women and girls. This includes supporting countries to develop and implement national multi sectoral and costed national action plans that addresses violence against women and girls, and supporting improved surveillance, monitoring and evaluation systems for evidence based prevention of violence against women and children. The work includes working with various partners including Governments, faith based institutions, men’s networks that promote GEWE, civil society and the media.

Peace and security and humanitarian action are shaped by women leadership and participation

The aim of the South Africa MCO programme on women, peace and security is to strengthen coordination, planning and collective action on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

With the support of the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, a project is underway to work with government and other key actors in building consensus and developing a costed National Action Plan on the resolution. It is anticipated South Africa’s position in the sub-region will also cultivate interest among other neighbouring countries to develop their own National Action Plans.

Women lead and participate in decision making at all levels

The overarching objective of this work by the South Africa MCO is to create partnerships to strengthen capacity of gender equality champions at national level in public and private sector institutions and within civil society, to promote women’s leadership and participation in decision making. The work under this area includes:

  • Helping to equip gender machineries, gender advocates and women parliamentarians with capacity to implement pre-existing gender equality and women’s empowerment policies that promote women’s leadership;
  • building capacity of women (including young women) to better engage in decision making processes and positively influence processes that promote improved outcomes for women and girls; and
  • supporting mentorship of young women and girls.