Women’s eman­ci­pa­tion is ev­ery­one’s busi­ness

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

WomeN’s moNth cel­e­brates women’s achieve­ments in pur­suit of gen­der equal­ity in all as­pects of life in South Africa. It is also a time to re­flect on the work that still needs to be done to achieve gen­der equal­ity and gen­uine free­dom from poverty and abuse in a mod­ern demo­cratic so­ci­ety.

Pres­i­dent Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, a renowned son of our soil, was a leader who be­lieved strongly in gen­der equal­ity and women’s eman­ci­pa­tion. He was also a self­less pa­triot who lived and strived for the lib­er­a­tion of our coun­try and its peo­ple. In his hon­our, we de­clared the year 2017 the Year of Oliver Regi­nald Tambo.

The Na­tional Women’s Day on 9 Au­gust pays tribute to women and their role in the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. This year it takes place at the same time as the centenary of Oliver Tambo’s year of birth, un­der the theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Mov­ing South Africa For­ward”.

The year 2017 marks the 61st an­niver­sary of the Women’s March to the Union Build­ings in Pre­to­ria on 9 Au­gust 1956. On that day up to 20 000 women of all races, class and re­li­gious per­sua­sions protested against the ex­ten­sion of Pass Laws. The march was a turn­ing point in the role of women in the strug­gle for free­dom and our so­ci­ety at large.

Unite to pre­vent abuse

We be­gan this year with an alarm­ing in­crease in the lev­els of at­tacks and killings of women and chil­dren, as well as hu­man traf­fick­ing, in some parts of the coun­try. We must unite to pre­vent such vi­o­lence against women, sup­port sur­vivors of abuse and bring per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice.

It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to pre­vent abuse and en­sure a safer so­ci­ety for women and chil­dren. It is only through our col­lec­tive ef­forts that we can cre­ate greater aware­ness, and re­duce the num­ber of sex­ual of­fences as well as at­tacks on women and chil­dren.

As re­ported in this month, the Na­tional Di­a­logues on Vi­o­lence against Women and Chil­dren will also help to com­bat the con­tin­ued scourge of vi­o­lent at­tacks on, and abuse of, women.

These di­a­logues are a plat­form for deep­en­ing democ­racy whilst en­sur­ing safer and crime-free com­mu­ni­ties es­pe­cially for women and chil­dren.

The Re­port on Sta­tus of Women in the South African Econ­omy in­di­cates that in the area of poverty and in­equal­ity, women re­main poorer and more women than men tend to live below the poverty line.

Ac­cess to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties

The South African econ­omy has moved into tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion and, in­vari­ably, women will be most af­fected by the eco­nomic de­cline and will bear the brunt of its re­sul­tant neg­a­tive eco­nomic and so­cial ef­fects.

As gov­ern­ment, we will con­tinue to fo­cus on the em­pow­er­ment of women in all gov­ern­ment pro­grammes and pri­ori­tise women’s ac­cess to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties and, in par­tic­u­lar, to busi­ness fi­nanc­ing and credit.

Through gov­ern­ment poli­cies, we are en­sur­ing the full par­tic­i­pa­tion of women in the econ­omy and driv­ing an in­clu­sive econ­omy. We have in­tro­duced the Gen­der Equal­ity Bill to ac­cel­er­ate the em­pow­er­ment of women and at­tain 50/50 gen­der par­ity for the coun­try.

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan also iden­ti­fies the fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion of women as a crit­i­cal tool that will re­sult in quicker poverty elim­i­na­tion, re­duce in­equal­ity and con­trib­ute to­wards the achieve­ment of the 2030 tar­get.

Breaking gen­der bar­ri­ers

The ad­vance­ment of women’s eman­ci­pa­tion is ev­ery­one’s busi­ness and needs the sup­port of gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, labour and civil so­ci­ety. We must con­tinue to work to­gether to re­move the bar­ri­ers, which pre­vent women from en­ter­ing and thriv­ing in the labour mar­ket. We also pride our­selves on, and cel­e­brate, women achiev­ers and the em­pow­er­ment of women, some of whom have taken their right­ful place in Par­lia­ment, gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety at large.

Over the last 23 years of democ­racy, we en­sured that women en­joy the same rights as their male coun­ter­parts in ed­u­ca­tion, busi­ness, em­ploy­ment, prop­erty, in­her­i­tance and jus­tice. They broke gen­der bar­ri­ers and en­tered pre­vi­ously male-dom­i­nated sec­tors such as min­ing, con­struc­tion and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

To­day, we have more women serv­ing as judges and mag­is­trates and in se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions in the pub­lic ser­vice.

While South Africa has made great strides to ad­vance women in our coun­try, we be­lieve that more needs to be done to over­come the triple chal­lenges of unem­ploy­ment, poverty and in­equal­ity. Dur­ing this Women’s Month, there­fore, we urge women to con­tinue play­ing a cen­tral role in build­ing our econ­omy and a strong na­tion. It is crit­i­cal that we con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for women’s em­pow­er­ment and raise aware­ness in or­der to change gen­der-based norms and prac­tices that con­tinue to keep many women con­fined to the mar­gins of our so­ci­ety and econ­omy. It is what OR Tambo would have con­tin­ued to ad­vo­cate for, had he still lived.

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