17 August 2017

South Africa: SA Makes Strides in Women Empowerment

As the country celebrates Women's Month, Cabinet has acknowledged South Africa's achievements in the field of women empowerment, following the country's first democratic elections.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said prior to 1994 parliament had a mere 2.7% representation of women, and following the first democratic elections, women representation in the National Assembly stood at 27.7%.

"In 1999 that figure increased to 30% and then to 32.7% in 2004. After 2009, national women representation reached 42%. Women Ministries now comprise 43% of the Cabinet," Minister Dlodlo said during a post Cabinet briefing held in Tshwane on Thursday.

Minister Dlodlo also acknowledged the increased number of women in leadership positions, including government structures like the Status of Women (OSW), which was established in the Presidency in 1997 to improve the status of women.

"Government's progressive policies continue to prioritize the empowerment of women, particularly those living in rural areas, who often bear the harsh realities of poverty," Minister Dlodlo said.

Cabinet also joined all South Africans in honouring the brave women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to protest the pass laws.

"In the spirit of OR Tambo's 'Flowers of the Revolution' statement, we commemorate the role of women as pioneers of the women's movement in this country, recognising that when you empower a woman, you empower the nation," she said.

Cabinet further wished Getrude Shope well for her 92nd birthday, describing her as a doyen of the struggle for liberation and for women emancipation in particular.

Shope is a recipient of Isitwalandwe/Seaparankwe, the highest honour awarded by the ANC to those who made an outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle.

Cabinet further extended its well wishes to Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe for her 90th birthday.

"South Africa is a better country through the sacrifices played by women of her silk," said Minister Dlodlo.

The Minister reminded the country of one of the woman anti-apartheid activists who was killed on this day in 1982, Ruth First. First was brutally killed by a letter bomb sent to her in Mozambique.

Gender based violence

Meanwhile, Cabinet added its voice to the condemnation of a video showing a schoolgirl being attacked by a male pupil at a school in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the recent killing of a school teacher, who was shot in front of her pupils by her partner. Cabinet further welcomed the arrest of the suspects in the attacks.

Cabinet also voiced its disappointed by the recent incident involving Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, who allegedly assaulted Mandisa Duma at Fourways Cubana, Johannesburg.

Deputy Minister Manana appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg last week, where he was granted R5 000 bail.

The case was postponed to 13 September 2017 for further investigation.

Cabinet appealed to all South Africans to allow this matter to go through the justice process without any interference as it believes no one is above the law.

"The harms and dangers of patriarchy which result in the violence against women and children should be fought by all of us as a society. The law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system must deal decisively against the perpetrators," the Minister said.

Gender based violence victims can call the toll free number on 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) and will be able to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling. Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from a cell phone.

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