Nee­dle needs to move for Women’s Month

CityPress - - Voices -

Ev­ery year in Au­gust, we celebrate women – there are high teas in high heels, talks by prom­i­nent women in all spheres of public life and Women’s Month spe­cials in ev­ery re­tail store. But achiev­ing real gen­der par­ity is as far off to­day as it ever was.

Women are not safe, girls are not safe. They are be­ing killed and at­tacked by their in­ti­mate part­ners or care­givers. Ev­ery week, we pub­lish “the rape map”, a roundup of the week’s sex­ual vi­o­lence cases. There’s no sig­nif­i­cant drop in what we re­port. In fact, ever more ter­ri­ble sto­ries emerge.

Women are not mak­ing it into the board­rooms of South Africa ei­ther. Ac­cord­ing to the re­cently re­leased 2015 South African Women in Lead­er­ship Cen­sus, which was con­ducted by the Busi­ness­women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of SA, only 8.79% of JSE-listed com­pa­nies have 25% or more fe­male di­rec­tors.

Women also con­tinue to carry the bur­den of fam­ily life – 39% of chil­dren live only with their moth­ers, while only 4% live just with their fathers.

Women also earn less than their male coun­ter­parts – glob­ally, the call for equal pay for equal work con­tin­ues.

While Cab­i­net boasts 40% fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and state-owned en­ter­prises came out of the same sur­vey with the best num­bers of 40%, the fact re­mains that the lives of or­di­nary women and girls in South Africa are still un­der­val­ued. We have a depart­ment set up specif­i­cally to deal with the dis­con­nect be­tween the Con­sti­tu­tion and the treat­ment of women, but the nee­dle hardly moves.

Women make up 51.2% of the to­tal South African pop­u­la­tion, and this coun­try is squan­der­ing more than half of its hu­man cap­i­tal be­cause of prej­u­dices and prac­tices that be­long in a time of apartheid. This doesn’t mean we can’t have high tea dur­ing Women’s Month, but it does mean that we need to bal­ance cel­e­bra­tion with ac­tion and in­sist on trans­for­ma­tion for all – now.

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