Women must re­de­fine Africa’s agenda

CityPress - - Voices - Maite NkoanaMasha­bane

The Women’s Char­ter, adopted at the 1954 found­ing con­fer­ence of the Fed­er­a­tion of SA Women – the first non­ra­cial women’s or­gan­i­sa­tion in the coun­try – laid the foun­da­tion for demo­cratic South Africa’s do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of women as an in­te­gral part of na­tion-build­ing and devel­op­ment.

It in­di­cated the aims of women of all races and creeds to, among oth­ers, fight for full cit­i­zenry char­ac­terised by equal­ity and equal op­por­tu­ni­ties in all spheres of pri­vate and pub­lic life.

The char­ter states that “free­dom can­not be won for any one sec­tion or for the peo­ple as a whole as long as we women are kept in bondage”.

This year also marks 20 years of the adop­tion of the Women’s Char­ter for Ef­fec­tive Equal­ity from the de­lib­er­a­tions of the na­tional women’s coali­tion struc­tures, ap­proved at the ANC’s na­tional con­fer­ence.

This char­ter was spe­cific in calling for ac­tion in the ar­eas of equal­ity; law and ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice; the econ­omy; ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing; devel­op­ment, in­fra­struc­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment; so­cial ser­vices; po­lit­i­cal and civic life; health; me­dia; cus­toms, cul­ture and re­li­gion; and vi­o­lence against women.

We also cel­e­brate Women’s Month in the con­text of the African Women’s Decade, ini­ti­ated by the African Union (AU).

The ini­tia­tive was launched in 2010 by AU heads of state and govern­ment to ad­vance gen­der equal­ity by ac­cel­er­at­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Dakar, Bei­jing and AU assem­bly de­ci­sions on gen­der equal­ity and women’s em­pow­er­ment through a top-down and bot­tom-up ap­proach in­clu­sive of grass-roots par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Since these un­der­tak­ings, and in our 20 years of free­dom, we have made progress in achiev­ing the 1954 ob­jec­tives. South Africa con­tin­ues to in­vest in the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of women and their rights with the be­lief that our coun­try and con­ti­nent need the full par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in all ar­eas of life.

This in­cludes par­tic­i­pa­tion in defin­ing the par­a­digm and con­tent of Africa’s devel­op­ment.

Last year, Africa’s lead­ers com­mit­ted to a re­newed fo­cus on the devel­op­ment and in­te­gra­tion agenda through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an over­ar­ch­ing con­ti­nen­tal ini­tia­tive called Agenda 2063.

The agenda will be peo­ple-driven with the ob­jec­tive of fa­cil­i­tat­ing an Africa that is pros­per­ous, in­te­grated and at peace with it­self.

The agenda’s goals can only be achieved with the full en­gage­ment of women and will be cru­cial to get­ting us where we want to be. The Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan also high­lights women’s cen­tral role in achiev­ing South Africa’s do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional ob­jec­tives. As a re­sult, our de­part­ment will be con­ven­ing a con­sul­ta­tion process with women from di­verse back­grounds this month for views on how the agenda can be re­alised.

The con­sul­ta­tions of­fer an op­por­tu­nity for women to de­fine the fu­ture they want for Africa, to take the fu­ture into our own hands.

Women’s Month is an op­por­tu­nity to pay trib­ute to the thou­sands of women on whose shoul­ders we stand and is an op­por­tu­nity to pay trib­ute to all African women who, in var­i­ous cir­cum­stances and in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, are the back­bone of our com­mu­ni­ties and na­tions. The cel­e­bra­tion calls on us to re­flect on our role in our fu­ture and the agenda presents this op­por­tu­nity.

Nkoana-Masha­bane is min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

SHIN­ING EX­AM­PLE

African Union chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

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