Ramaphosa lashes out over war on women
Joins thousands retracing steps of anti-pass laws protest
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has said the violent war waged on South African women has left society lamenting more than sparking outrage.
Men should hang their heads in shame, he said.
The president was addressing the official Women’s Day celebrations in Mbekweni, near Paarl, yesterday, where he also announced that the government would be hosting a national gender summit on August 31.
“There is an admission that all of us men have to make. In towns, small and large, in cities, in homes, in schools, in colleges, in universities, in parks and open spaces, a war is being waged in South Africa on women’s right to security and equality.
“It is an affront to our common humanity. The assault on our women has reached unprecedented levels,” Ramaphosa added.
“We have seen that there is little outrage at these brutal acts of violence. There is more lamentation than outrage. Society is largely becoming accustomed to this.
“We need to raise an awareness and encourage women to raise their voices,” Ramaphosa said.
He recently accepted a memorandum of grievances from the #TotalShutDown protesters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“There I heard of reports that one police officer slapped a woman, while another verbally abused one of the female protesters. I have asked the police minister to investigate these incidents.
“Violence against women is a societal problem. We need to start focusing on how we raise boys, and look at the psyche of men who commit these crimes,” he said.
On the contentious issue of land reform, Ramaphosa said: “We need to ensure that land reform favours women. We need to ensure that land reform benefits women who can work the land.
“The land must benefit women in terms of housing and agriculture and to get them out of poverty.”
A group of protesters held posters calling for a moratorium on farm evictions. Ramaphosa acknowledged them, and senior ANC leaders spoke to them.
ANC Women’s League Struggle veteran Sophie de Bruyn said women today faced an uphill battle.
De Bruyn is the only surviving leader of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings on August 9, 1956.
“I stand here saddened at the situation faced by women. This will make Albertina Sisulu sad, because this is not the Struggle we fought for. We did not struggle for perpetrators to walk freely in the road. We fought for a just and equal society.
“Women don’t want anything; all they want is what they deserve,” she said.
DA Women’s Network leader Nomafrench Mbombo, also the Health MEC in the Western Cape, said women were the victims of ANC corruption.
“Women bear the brunt of the humanitarian crisis of unemployment… caused by an ANC government only focused on enriching themselves and who don’t know how to manage the real problems South Africa faces.
“(A total of) 41.2% of women are without work, compared with 33.7% of men. This humanitarian crisis leaves women vulnerable to the oppressive and inhumane system of patriarchy and the abuse, physical and mental, which accompanies it.”
THE Struggle for the total emancipation of women is in their hands because things will not just happen for them without a persistent fight, Premier David Makhura said yesterday.
He was addressing multitudes of women on the southern lawn of the Union Buildings in Tshwane, where they were commemorating the 1956 women’s march against the carrying of the apartheid regime’s dompas.
Dressed in black and ANC colours, women braved the cold to gather in the morning at the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square and began a 2km walk to the Union Buildings.
The march was organised under the theme “100 Years of Albertina Sisulu, Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward”, and coincided with Sisulu’s centenary birth.
Led by Makhura, thousands of women retraced steps of the anti-pass laws march of 20 000 women 62 years ago.
Delivering his message for the day, Makhura urged women to be organised and to exert pressure on government institutions for changes to be effected in their favour.
“We need women to be organised in every sector. We must put pressure on the institutions. As the premier of Gauteng I know institutions sometimes work at their own pace. I know government officials sometimes work at their own pace,” he added.
The premier said women must not be hesitant to knock on the doors of government.
“I want women who are organised, including if you were to march to my offices on things that are not happening fast enough,” Makhura said.
He, however, cautioned them not to be ill-disciplined when they marched by burning public property.
“Women need to take actions and sometimes radical actions. I am not talking about burning down things because women are always disciplined,” Makhura said.
He told young women that it would take militant action to get them to where they want to be.
“My message is that it took a Struggle to get us where we are today. It took sacrifices by women to get us where we are today.”
Makhura used the opportunity to take stock of the successes made by his ANC-led administration in addressing gender disparities since he assumed office four years ago.
“I am proud to say that in our cabinet we have five men and five women,” he said.
However, he said there was more work to be done to strike a gender balance between women and men in the administration.
“We have just finished assessing the women in the administration of Gauteng, especially in senior management,” Makhura said.
His administration had a women’s representation of at least 42% but was targeting 50-50 gender representation. “I said to MECs and heads of department to go and find women professionals who are qualified,” Makhura said.
He weighed in on the gender pay gap issue, saying women with the same qualifications as men needed to be equally remunerated.
Makhura announced the decision by his administration to launch the Albertina Sisulu Women’s Leadership Development Programme in honour of Mama Sisulu. Through the programme young women, who have some qualifications, would be offered training to work in the public service.
“We want to train them and introduce them to the public service. We can’t keep saying to the youth they must have experience. Where will they get experience if they are not given opportunities?”
Gender Commission chairperson Lulama Nare called on government to make available more funding for the protection of women.
She denounced bad treatment perpetrated against women, saying it ought to come to a halt.
She further called on the government to create job opportunities for women.
Zodwa Tlale, of the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa, pleaded with women to unite irrespective of their political affiliation, saying they ought to emulate the 1956 women.
MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Faith Mazibuko said: “As women we must be protectors of girl children. We must ensure they go to school.”
It took sacrifices by women to get us where we are…
RAISE AWARENESS: President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister for Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini arrive at Mbekweni Rugby Stadium for the Women’s Day event.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Gauteng Premier David Makhura took part in the Women’s Day march from Lillian Ngoyi Square to the Union Buildings in Tshwane yesterday.