10 April 2014

South Africa: Gender Summit Reviews Progress, Challenges

Pretoria — South Africa has many milestones worth celebrating in its journey to achieving gender equality in the past 20 years, says the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.

Addressing over 400 delegates during the National Gender Summit currently underway in Benoni, Gauteng, Xingwana said democracy and freedom came with the promise of gender equality and the vision of an equal society where men and women of all races are able to make a meaningful contribution to building a better South Africa.

"Today when we look back, we can attest that despite the many hills and valleys that still lie ahead on this journey of gender equality and women empowerment, there is generally a good story to tell, especially if you consider where we come from.

"Women now have equal rights before the law, which did not exist before 1994. South Africa has adopted significant legislative reforms and has developed policies and programmes based on the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, which seek to promote and protect women's rights in the home, community and workplace," Minister Xingwana said.

The three-day summit, which started on Wednesday, is hosted by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Women, Oxfam, Department of Public Enterprises, and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

The objective of the summit is to celebrate the gains made in terms of gender equality as the country. It will also look at strategies to further push the agenda of gender equality in the country and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and it will examine the role women play role in the economy.

Xingwana said much remains to be done, as South Africa is still confronted by the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. She said government has done an extensive review of how far the country has come on various issues, including gender equality in the 20 Year Review report, and has identified gaps in the current legislative framework to elevate women's economic empowerment and access to justice.

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