THE participation of women in the mainstream economy should be prioritised to ensure the economic wellbeing of KwaZulu-Natal, Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha said yesterday. Speaking at Ixopo, where the provincial government honoured struggle stalwarts, including Dr Margaret Mncadi, by unveiling a memorial tombstone, she said it would be impossible to make a dent in poverty levels unless women also participated fully in the economy. Sibhidla-Saphetha said women should have access to economic opportunities so that they could take care of their families. “The reality is that if women in rural areas are excluded from participating in socioeconomic development programmes, poverty will remain a permanent feature in our communities.” She listed the KZN government’s efforts to bring women into the mainstream economy. Sibhidla-Saphetha said Mncadi was among the stalwarts who had inspired many women across communities and yesterday’s unveiling of her tombstone was testimony that the provincial government had not forgotten the contribution made by the women of Ixopo in the struggle for freedom.