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A perspective on gender inequality by our CEO Yasmina Francke

A perspective on gender inequality by our CEO Yasmina Francke

Gender inequality is still prevalent in many communities across the globe. Women and girls continue to share a disproportionate burden of poverty, hunger, inequality and violence, while gender imbalance persists within a vicious cycle of pain and indignity. Although several international laws have been passed and many policy measures have been adopted, gender equality remains one of the most pressing social, economic and political issues affecting modern society.


Identified by the United Nations as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), women’s equality and empowerment are among the 17 SDGs that seek to end all  forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere.  Gender equality encompasses women’s rights to access  economic resources, financial services, justice, ownership  and control over property, inheritance, natural resources, and  more importantly, to get equitable pay and representation at  the boardroom table. However, these goals would fail to reach any far without considering the complex and multifarious  nature of a gender-equal world. 

Professor Naila Kabeer from the London School of Economics  Department of Gender Studies defines women empowerment  as: “A process by which women gain the ability to make and  enact strategic life choices. Critically, women are the agents  of the change process”. Prof Kabeer contends that to be truly  empowered, women must have the rights and freedom to  make choices and decisions for themselves, their families,  communities and environment. 

Engaging women and girls in sustainable development  requires a change in attitudes and behaviours towards women  and girls. Societal changes are required to challenge deeply rooted norms and expectations about power and privilege,  and to create an enabling environment for gender-based  activism to find expression.


According to Leora Klapper, Lead Economist at the World  Bank and Founder of the Global Findex database, achieving  any UN SDGs – poverty eradication, gender equality and  quality education - begins with having a financially inclusive  world. 

Financial inclusion is a critical component of social inclusion  and represents a fundamental global development agenda.  In this regard, women’s access to financial services rightfully  ranks as one of the leading sustainable development targets,  forcing many countries, including Islamic countries, to adopt  financial inclusion strategies.

Islamic finance can contribute meaningfully to the global  reform agenda defined in SDG-5 concerning women  empowerment. By its inherent nature, Islamic finance  principles are rooted in social justice, inclusion, and sharing  of resources to achieve prosperity and social well-being for  all. The risk-sharing instruments of Islamic finance, such  as musharakah and murabaha, and its social redistributive  mechanisms like zakat, sadaqa and waqf, can undoubtedly  bring positive and sustainable changes. 

As Islamic banking and finance become increasingly  widespread in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North  Africa, there are significant differences in financial inclusion  and integration of women across these countries. 

Whilst Malaysian and Indonesian women are making  significant strides in Islamic finance, women in the Middle East  have only started to see the tides changing. The situation in the  Northern regions of Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is  not different. It is clear that women’s access to Islamic finance  varies depending on geographic spread. Islamic finance’s  urbanisation also poses a challenge for its effectiveness as  a valuable tool to achieve the SDGs. Rural communities,  suffering significantly more from mainstream economic  exclusion and deprivation, are further denied the offering that  has the potential to take care of their needs. 

Whilst the growth in FinTech can serve as a bridge to  overcome this challenge, digital adoption across the globe  is still slow and has spurred only recently because of the  COVID-19 induced lockdown and social distancing. Digital  finance has the potential to transform the economic prospects  of women because of its ability to address a number of the daily restriction women from various backgrounds and  cultures face – the limitation on free movement, the demands  of family life and even resistance to engage face-to-face with  males in financial institutions. However, it is not without risks.  Hacking, identity theft and aggressive marketing are but  some of its ills. 

Along with the generally low public awareness levels on  financial and technological literacy, this consumer base’s  vulnerability is further compounded.


In September 2020, Reuters reported that women are sorely  underrepresented in financial services, focusing on the Gulf  Arab region. Some may challenge this point with the growing  list of women in senior positions ranging from CEOs of leading  banks to presidents of FinTech companies and chief advisers  to the Islamic banks. Change is undoubtedly on the horizon,  but there is caution against the achievement of quotas on  leadership boards and advisory councils, if it serves purely as  tokenism and a scorecard accelerator. 

In other research done by the Boston Consulting Group, it is  reported that women are generally offered ‘dumbed down’  products when, in reality, they want the same products as  offered to men. Women want their products and investment  options developed in a way that acknowledges their diversity  and reflects their values and preferences, such as higher  female life expectancy, interruptions in careers due to family  planning so on and so forth.


As long as financial services fail to embrace these differences  and do not strive to be truly inclusive and accessible, female  leadership participation will remain a lost opportunity, and the  industry will continue to under-serve women.


Islamic finance can be one of the most powerful, liberating  and enabling tools to drive women empowerment. At this  critical juncture when Islamic finance is coming into its own,  it must seek to balance supply-side factors with consideration  for the specific demand from its various stakeholders, with a  particular focus on the unique needs of women, from those  in rural communities to the one urbanised and to the ones  challenging the glass ceiling.

Differentiating its services with exclusive offers has already  attracted many women - both Muslim and non-Muslim - and is  setting Islamic finance apart to reflect the sensitivity towards  cultural and religious dynamics.

If Islamic finance continues on this trajectory, it will be well  placed to provide access to financial services to businesses  and communities in a sustainable way. Doing so will assist in  achieving SDG-5 and also many other SDGs where women,  in their role as mothers, teachers, caregivers and nurturers,  can play a pivotal role for sustainable development in the true  sense of the word.


SANZAF wins prestigious Global Good Governance awards

SANZAF wins prestigious Global Good Governance awards

The Global Good Governance Awards spearheaded by Cambridge IFA presented the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) with the Transparency and Capacity Building Championship award in an online ceremony held on 25 May 2021 via livestream.

The Global Good Governance Awards or 3G Awards celebrate individuals, governments, public and private institutions and NGOs that demonstrate making governance and sustainability a strategic priority of their organisations. The awards highlights excellence in good governance and commitment to social welfare in 3 major streams: Government & Politics, Corporate Sector, and Social Sector & Philanthropy.

Since its debut, over 150 awards have been presented to some exceptional individuals and institutions drawn from more than 25 countries in different continents.

SANZAF CEO, Yasmina Francke commented that the award reflects the organisation’s 47-year commitment to changing lives and making a positive impact in the fight against poverty.  She said, “through our various outreach initiatives we aim to provide the enablers to economic self-sufficiency in order to transform lives and make a meaningful difference”. She added, “our focus is on skills development, education and capacity building to ensure long-term sustainable solutions that would give rise to a dignified existence for those we serve”.

SANZAF National Chairperson, Fayruz Mohamed added, “The work we do at SANZAF is driven by our passion to assist those in need.  We deliver projects and programmes that offer long-term sustainable solutions to the extremely high levels of poverty and unemployment in South Africa. This has always been done in a manner that is transparent and accountable.  We are humbled to receive this prestigious 3G award for Capacity Building and thank the team at 3G Awards for their efforts in delivering on these awards, amidst the current challenges of the global pandemic that is affecting the world right now.

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SANZAF News Desk

SANZAF News Desk

support SANZAF Imam Empowerment Project

support SANZAF Imam Empowerment Project

No other job on this Earth is more rewarding in the eyes of Allah than that of an Imam (leaders). He works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the behest of the community who comes knocking at his door during the early morning hours and late in the evenings. The Imam is the most underpaid profession in the Muslim Community, yet, like the rest of us, he must see to the household expenses whilst raising a family as well.

The South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) in partnership with The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is proud to announce the launch of the Ta’awun Imamat Programme (Imam Assistance Programme) that aims to ensure that imams earn a living wage aligned with their qualifications and experience whilst empowering the community.

Three Imams and their committees have been chosen to pilot this project and will be paid a salary from the Imam Assistance Fund account. This account is managed by SANZAF, who produce annual audited statements.

The Programme aims to:

  • Provide a living salary to Imams from areas in and around the Western Cape where the respected regional masjid committee does not have the resources to provide a monthly salary to the Imam.
  • A medical aid (Hospital Plan).
  • UIF
  • Providing financial stability for the Imam so he may focus completely on servicing his community in which he is employed and therefore providing an added benefit to that community.

Your contributions will go a long way in sustaining this long awaited initiative. Please help us #GiveHope by supporting the Imam Ta’awun Programme.

Contact 021 447 0297 for more information.

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Open letter to Minister Mboweni ahead of his budget speech 2021

Open letter to Minister Mboweni ahead of his budget speech 2021

It’s time to reflect, recover and rebuild our nation

Dear Honourable Minister Mboweni

You face the nation during troubled times. The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged our beloved country into further despair. Before the virus reached our shores, we had experienced only 0.4% growth and an unemployment rate of nearly 40%.  South Africans were crying for so many different things all at once: jobs, economic growth, service delivery, land, decent housing, water, reliable energy, education and social stability. And now added socio-economic effects of COVID-19 and the lockdowns have worsened already dire situations.

SANZAF Zakah Calculator

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Use our simple to use Zakah Calculator to ensure you have fulfilled your obligation to the right amount.

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SANZAF provides food vouchers to The Teddy Bear Foundation

SANZAF provides food vouchers to The Teddy Bear Foundation

SANZAF has been a source of hope to those in need. SANZAF works in a proactive way in sectors such as welfare and development, education, emergency relief, food aid, and shelter to the needy. 

As part of our portfolio of welfare projects, SANZAF Gauteng has been providing relief to families impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. SANZAF provides food vouchers to needy families to assist with groceries and other household goods. Since October 2020 SANZAF has reached out and distribute 4951 food vouchers throughout the province. SANZAF believes that through short-term relief, and medium-to-long-term recovery programming, that we can help these families recover. SANZAF donated 200 food vouchers to the Teddy Bear Foundation for families in need.

SANZAF is honoured to share our resources with the Teddy Bear Foundation and The Teddy Bear Clinic and we commend them for the phenomenal work that they do in the fight against the sexual abuse of children. 

Bambisanani! Working hand in hand we can all make a difference. It’s time to Reflect, Recover and Rebuild!

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It’s time to Reflect, Recover and Rebuild!

It’s time to Reflect, Recover and Rebuild!

As a Nation in crisis, lets reflect, recover and rebuild.

What is the situation?

The Socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis - increase in lack of food security, business closures, lower to middle income earners who have lost their jobs and are left without the buffer of social grants and a devastating effect on the academic and social progress of our youth.

Our Objective

The current climate has led to an increase in the need amongst those less fortunate, we humbly appeal to communities across South Africa to pay your Zakah and help us meet this need. We believe the best tool we can equip our future generations with is education. The SANZAF Education, Empowerment and Development (SEED) Programme looks to provide these tools for beneficiaries so they can achieve economic prosperity and a better quality of life for them and their families. SEED is a multi-faceted initiative investing in early childhood development, vocational training, tertiary education and Islamic studies.

What can You do?

Be part of the solution, pay your Zakah!

As we move forward into “the new normal” we must acknowledge we all have a responsibility as South Africans and as Muslims to do our part in assisting our community and brothers and sisters who need assistance. Zakah can help us rebuild and empower those for the future.

Reflect, Recover and Rebuild!

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Women Empowerment program – Skills development launch in East London

The Skills development programmes ( Sewing classes & Computer Course ) is aimed at Empowering Women facing extreme challenges, including lack of Education, Unemployment, lack of Basic Essentials ( most living in informal settlements & backyard shacks ).

As majority of these disadvantaged ladies lack any form of experience, their chances of finding employment are dim. Most are dependent on SASSA grants and the minimal wages their husbands earn, which that to has been compromised due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some being retrenched or their working hours reduced. For the majority, their small businesses have been hugely affected.

The Launch of these programs was aimed at restoring a sense of HOPE for this vulnerable sector within our community. The presentation focused on Awakening our creativity as Women / Mothers, to remind us of the important role and value we can add in our homes & community. In obtaining the skills we will be empowering ourselves and contributing to our households while supporting our spouses allowing them the quality time for Ibaadat, Alhamdulillah.

As the safety risks increase for women and children, the aim is to allow women to become self -sufficient / contributors while working from home. Children will be afforded the privilege of being attended to after school by their mothers instead of whoever is available within the community.

Sewing course is 6 weeks, from the 16th Nov to the 22 Dec, Mon to Thurs 09.00 to 13.00.

Computer course for 4 weeks from the 16th Nov to 10th Dec, Mon to Thurs 09.00 to 13.00

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Call 0437227459 for more information

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