Im­prov­ing con­di­tions of women is good for de­vel­op­ment

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

As We Be­gIn to cel­e­brate Women’s Month, let’s make South Africa a coun­try where women can achieve their true po­ten­tial.

In his mes­sage for the Year of the Women in 1984 Oliver Regi­nald Tambo said that one of the most im­por­tant tasks of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment was the lib­er­a­tion of the women of our coun­try from their triple op­pres­sion on the grounds of sex, class and colour.

We re­mem­ber th­ese force­ful words this Au­gust. We cel­e­brate this year’s Women’s Month un­der the sub-theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Mov­ing South Africa For­ward”. In this 61st year since the his­toric women’s march in 1956, we pay trib­ute to the brave women who con­fronted un­just apartheid laws over many years and in 1956 in par­tic­u­lar for play­ing that im­por­tant role in ush­er­ing in a demo­cratic gov­ern­ment. We also el­e­vate, cel­e­brate and draw in­spi­ra­tion from many women achiev­ers in var­i­ous sec­tors in our so­ci­ety.

Since the dawn of free­dom, our gov­ern­ment has been com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the con­di­tions of the women in this coun­try, and has made very con­sid­er­able strides in this un­der­tak­ing, which also con­sol­i­dates our democ­racy.

Ac­cel­er­at­ing eco­nomic in­clu­sion

In var­i­ous de­part­ments gov­ern­ment is en­sur­ing a par­tic­u­lar de­lib­er­ate bias to­wards women, as the ma­jor­ity sec­tion of our pop­u­la­tion, in the pro­vi­sion of busi­ness and other eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties so as to ac­cel­er­ate the goal of eco­nomic in­clu­sion. The De­part­ment of Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, has seized the op­por­tu­nity to af­firm women in the range of op­por­tu­ni­ties that it of­fers, but here, as in any sec­tor, there is still a glar­ing need for more women to en­sure fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, in­clud­ing the agro-pro­cess­ing sup­ply chain, which are open to women. We urge women to be in­volved in de­vel­op­ing food gar­dens so that we use the soil to pro­duce food. Women should form co­op­er­a­tives as well. Many such co­op­er­a­tives al­ready sup­ply food for gov­ern­ment’s school food nu­tri­tion scheme, while many women also have op­por­tu­ni­ties to cook for chil­dren at schools and have an in­come. Women also work in many of the Ex­panded Public Works Pro­gramme projects in­clud­ing re­pair­ing roads, look­ing af­ter the sick as caregivers, and clear­ing veg­e­ta­tion. Gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to roll out th­ese projects as part of al­le­vi­at­ing poverty and pro­vid­ing skills to women.

South Africa must be safe for women and chil­dren

This Women’s Month we will also high­light the scourge of vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren. This year has seen height­en­ing in­ci­dents of women and child abuse, some very grue­some.

Through the 365 days cam­paign, we have made a yearin-and-year-out com­mit­ment to pro­tect women and chil­dren from vi­o­lence and all forms of abuse. South Africa must be safe for women and chil­dren.

No­body has the right to at­tack women. We urge women to re­port per­pe­tra­tors to the po­lice, who have been in­structed to treat such cases se­ri­ously and with ur­gency. Women must not tol­er­ate abuse at home, in par­tic­u­lar by hus­bands or part­ners. The si­lence must end. Fam­ily mem­bers must also not tell women not to re­port such. This is crim­i­nal and must be end.

Our demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tion, though the Bill of Rights, pro­vides for gen­der equal­ity. An im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment is that our ju­di­ciary is also trans­form­ing to in­clude more women. For ex­am­ple, of the 154 can­di­dates who were ap­pointed as district mag­is­trates across the coun­try in 2015, 90, or 59 per cent, were women. In April this year 48 se­nior mag­is­trates were ap­pointed, 48 per cent of them were women. Na­tion­ally, of the 1 570 or so mag­is­trates in the coun­try, 702, or 45 per cent, are women. Su­pe­rior courts also have to en­sure that they re­flect this change.

In gov­ern­ment, the leg­is­la­ture and civil ser­vice we have also made ef­forts to en­sure gen­der equal­ity and op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

As we be­gin to cel­e­brate Women’s Month, we urge every­one to par­tic­i­pate in mak­ing South Africa a much safer place for women, and a coun­try where women can achieve their true po­ten­tial and use op­por­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate bet­ter lives for them­selves.

Let us all sup­port the pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties that have been planned for Women’s Month and move our coun­try for­ward to­wards a bet­ter life for women and house­holds.

‘In this 61st year since the his­toric women’s march in 1956, we pay trib­ute to the brave women

who con­fronted un­just apartheid laws

over many years.’

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