South Africa Multi-Country Office

The UN Women South Africa Multi Country Office (SAMCO) is based in Pretoria, South Africa and covers five countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Eswatini. All five countries are members of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

The priority areas for the South Africa Multi Country Office are:

  • Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems
  • Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy
  • Women and girls live a life free from violence.

As chair of the United Nations Gender Theme Group in South Africa, we work across the wider UN system 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, UN Women SAMCO focuses on advocacy efforts and 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 lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems

UN Women SAMCO has partnered with the SADC Parliamentary Forum to build capacity of Regional Women’s Caucus to advocate for GEWE including on ending child marriages. In South Africa, UN Women SAMCO supports the South Africa Local Government Association (SALGA) to promote women’s leadership at local level including through technical assistance to the SALGA Women’s Commission. In Lesotho, UN Women SAMCO works with the UNDP and UNFPA to build the capacity of Parliamentary Women’s Caucus to ensure gender responsive legislation and budgets in Lesotho as well as contributing to the peace and political reforms in the country.

To promote social cohesion, UN Women SAMCO trains and supports women alongside men to actively lead and participate in community dialogues in Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. UN Women SAMCO also conducts mediation training for women with the aim of enlisting selected trainees with SADC, UN and AU rosters for mediation and long-term election observation.


Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy

Gender Responsive Procurement

UN Women SAMCO is implementing the UN Women Flagship Project Initiative on stimulating equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs, primarily in the agriculture and energy sectors.

Through the flagship project, UN Women SAMCO focuses on identifying procurement opportunities and matching women owned enterprises to these opportunities including through a digital enterprise platform known as Buy from Women. The project also extends to training women entrepreneurs to take up procurement opportunities (including digital and financial literacy) and conversely training procurement and supply chain officers so that they have the skills and knowledge to procure from women. Another key aspect is galvanising corporate leadership around the women’s empowerment principles (WEPs) so that companies commit to buying from women.

Supporting Women Micro-Entrepreneurs

UN Women SAMCO is implementing the Accelerating Women Owned Micro-Enterprises (AWOME) programme which aims to support women micro-entrepreneurs to build their businesses, create more jobs and generate more income, through business and life skills training, as well as access to networks and support. Key training areas will include business planning, record keeping, costing, buying and stock control, marketing, people and productivity.

The capacity-building programme is a partnership between De Beers Group, UN Women and governments in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa that aims to reach 1200 women micro-entrepreneurs by 2020. It follows a train-the-trainer approach, whereby local community members are trained to train and mentor the women micro-entrepreneurs. This generates jobs for the trainers and means the programme can be sustainably embedded, with the aim of gradually reducing support to ensure self-reliance.

Women and girls live a life free of violence

UN Women SAMCO aims to strengthen national responses and prevention mechanisms to reduce violence against women and girls and reduce their risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. This includes supporting countries to develop and implement national multi sectoral and costed national action plans that address violence against women and girls and women’s peace and security; 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.

SAMCO supports the SADC Secretariat and member countries that SAMCO serves to implement the two regional policy frameworks which have been adopted by SADC with the support of SAMCO - the SADC Strategy and Programme of Action for Gender Based Violence and SADC Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security. SAMCO also supports countries to develop their National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security.

In South Africa, SAMCO provides technical and financial support for an enhanced integrated UN system, government and national stake-holders multi-sector coordination mechanism for responding to GBV in South Africa. Additionally, there is a dedicated support for the implementation of the National Policy and Strategy Framework for addressing gender violence on campus as well mobilizing youth through technology by testing the Pheza Platform (a digital solution to prevent and respond to gender-based violence on South African Campuses) that is being developed by UN Women in partnership with HEAIDS.