Stand up for women’s rights

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page -

It’s tIme for com­mu­ni­ties to hold hon­est con­ver­sa­tions about the role of women in so­ci­ety, as Na­tional Di­a­logues take place in Women’s Month.

With Women’s Month un­der­way, a se­ries of Na­tional Di­a­logues is tak­ing place across the North­ern Cape to raise aware­ness of, and find ways to tackle, the scourge of gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Re­spon­si­ble for Women, Su­san Sha­bangu, said her depart­ment will be work­ing with men and women to bring an end to the vi­o­lence women suf­fer.

Speak­ing at the launch of the 2017 Women’s Month pro­gramme in Pre­to­ria re­cently, the Min­is­ter said it is time com­mu­ni­ties had hon­est con­ver­sa­tions about the roles that women play in so­ci­ety.

“The di­a­logues are also go­ing to scru­ti­nise the ef­fects of how fam­i­lies re­serve the big­gest piece of meat for men. Our churches are led by men, the ma­jor­ity of school­books are writ­ten by men, and the me­dia is dom­i­nated by men. These re­al­i­ties con­trib­ute to how men are po­si­tioned as more im­por­tant than women in so­ci­ety.”

We need women to take the lead

In Lim­popo, MEC for Coop­ertive Gov­er­nance, Hu­man Set­tle­ments and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs, Makoma Makhu­ru­petje, shared the same mes­sage as she launched the province’s month-long Women’s Month ac­tiv­i­ties. Speak­ing at the Le­bo­eng Sports Ground, the MEC re­minded the au­di­ence that to­day’s free­dom is the re­sult of brave men and women who chose to stand up against tyranny.

While Na­tional Women’s Month is a time of re­flec­tion and tribute to the women who marched to the Union Build­ings in 1956, and to the many women-led cam­paigns of the past, it is also a time to as­sess the present and plan for the fu­ture.

Not stand­ing up for the rights of women to­day is a be­trayal of the lega­cies of women like Dora Ta­mana, Al­bertina Sisulu, Lil­lian Ngoyi, He­len Joseph and Char­lotte Max­eke. “All these women re­fused to ac­cept the false as­ser­tions that their place was merely lim­ited to the kitchen,” MEC Makhu­ru­petje said.

There are women who the coun­try should look to for in­spi­ra­tion, she added. These role mod­els are mak­ing waves ev­ery­where in so­ci­ety. But the coun­try needs more

women in lead­er­ship roles, es­pe­cially in the cor­po­rate world and tech­ni­cal pro­fes­sions.

“Cor­po­rate South Africa is one sec­tor that is still male-dom­i­nated and must be changed sooner rather than later. My depart­ment is al­ready tak­ing a lead in this re­gard – as we have taken a de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion to ap­point 30 per cent women and 20 per cent youth con­trac­tors to de­liver on our hous­ing man­date.”

Work­ing to­gether

The theme for this year’s Women’s Month is “The Year of OR Tambo: Women united in mov­ing South Africa for­ward”.

The depart­ment’s di­a­logue road­show taps into this idea, cham­pi­oned by OR Tambo. Speak­ing at the Women’s Con­fer­ence in Luanda in 1981, he re­minded his au­di­ence: “The mo­bil­i­sa­tion of women is the task, not only of women alone, or of men alone, but of all of us, men and women alike, com­rades in strug­gle.”

The Min­is­ter be­lieves that open di­a­logues are the way to change so­ci­ety’s per­cep­tions of the role of women. She chal­lenged faith­based or­gan­i­sa­tions, tra­di­tional lead­ers, com­mu­nity lead­ers, women’s or­gan­i­sa­tions, and even stokvels to stand up and let their voices be heard.

It is only when com­mu­ni­ties stand to­gethr that real change takes place she said. “We be­lieve that forg­ing part­ner­ships with com­mu­ni­ties, busi­ness, faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions and tra­di­tional lead­er­ship will give women

a first-hand op­por­tu­nity to di­rectly in­flu­ence gov­ern­ment pro­grammes and en­sure the main­stream­ing of gen­der is­sues through the na­tional di­a­logues pro­gramme.”

The depart­ment is tak­ing the lead to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for women to join the econ­omy as equals. “Women are key ben­e­fi­cia­ries in the de­vel­op­ment of skills. The depart­ment is also hard at work de­vel­op­ing san­i­tary dig­nity, gen­der-re­spon­sive bud­get­ing and women fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion frame­works to fur­ther the women so­cio-eco­nomic agenda in the coun­try.”

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