International Women’s Day

Investing in women means investing in technology

International Women’s Day

Investing in women means investing in technology

Interview with Brenda Morin, Chief Executive Officer, Agency for Social Protection, Seychelles, in connection with International Women's Day on 8 March 2024.

Brenda Morin

What are in your view the most important barriers to gender equality today?

At the Agency for Social Protection, 89% of the workforce are women. It is normal in the Seychelles to find women working in social services institutions as opposed to physically intensive industries which attract mainly men.

Over the years, I can say that the Seychelles has understood the vital role empowered women play in the development of a society. Most women are heading households as historically the country is a matriarchy As with the rest of the world, the Seychelles is not alienated from many barriers that impact the lives of our women; namely substance abuse, domestic violence, teenage pregnancies. With limited interventions for support, the impact for some women can be adverse.  

To me, the most important barrier in the Seychelles that is impacting gender equality is a lack of statistical data to fully understand the situation and correlations between genders. Accurate data analysis is essential in a timely manner in order for a government to be fully informed in taking necessary and timely actions to ensure gender equality. This is vital for the future development of the country.

When you hear the theme of this year “Investing in women”, what possible measures come to your mind to accelerate progress?

Investing in women means investing in technological infrastructure. A society seeking futuristic progression cannot do so without digitalization. This will bring about modernized, innovative supporting services to women in a more efficient and timely manner.

Digitalization also leads to accurate and timely data availability for analysis in order to develop laws and policies to contribute towards the development of women in the Seychelles.

I am glad to say that the current Government of the Seychelles has embraced digitalization. Since the year 2022, the Minister for the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade has been heading a Steering Committee for the development of a National Digital Economy Strategy, which will serve as a roadmap for the country.

How can the social security system of your country strengthen its enabling role for gender equality?

From a study done by the World Bank, it was noted that the Seychelles has a comprehensive, but fragmented, social protection system. The Agency for Social Protection is responsible for the implementation of most social protection programmes, ranging from universal pensions to social welfare. Other smaller programmes are run by different ministries. These fragmentations limits systematic coordination between these programmes which hinders effectiveness and efficiency.

Based on the above study, in 2020 the Government of Seychelles embarked on a financial assistance programme for comprehensive social protection reform for three years with the World Bank. Since the reform started, the Agency for Social Protection has been making great leaps in interlinking with other stakeholders when providing social assistance. It has been living up to its motto “Empowering you to empower yourself”. This has led to more targeted financial assistance across the board and ensuring people are taking up employment.

In 2022, the welfare benefit rate was increased by 32 per cent and this led to a positive impact in single parent households where women are heads. Furthermore, in January 2024, eight statutory benefits mainly to do with women and children saw significant increases, including a new statutory benefit that was introduced for mothers giving birth to more than one child.

The Agency for Social Protection is this year moving into the digitalization world for a modern service and a platform for providing programme beneficiaries with better quality, accessible services in a timely manner.

What is your message to all ISSA members on International Women’s Day?

My message is very short…. Women are the cradle of tomorrow. So nurture them, educate them and empower them for a bright future for us all.