Department of Women opens its doors to boys

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Department for Women has committed to including boys in its ‘Take a girl child to work’ programme.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Bathabile Dlamini, made the announcement in the debate of the President’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Dlamini said South Africa resembles a warzone, and the war is against women and the girl child.

“We have a national crisis. Murder, rape, brutal physical attacks, harmful practices and the denial of opportunities for the advancement of women across the board have become established practice in our society. When brutal killings of women are announced, they are always taken as business as usual and women are taken as statistics,” the Minister said.

Dlamini said in the political arena, the economy and in their social lives, women face exclusion, discrimination, systematic segregation, physical and emotional violence, threats of and actual death -- many times at the hands of family members and boyfriends and those that are in control of business in big institutions.

The Minister said it was time to bring boys into the fray.

“On the other hand, we have to listen to the fears of the boy child. It is important that we include boys and men in our programmes so that they understand what patriarchy is and what the abuse of women is. We also have to listen to their experiences.”

Dlamini appealed to the President to direct the wave of economic activity, which is meant to strengthen the country’s coffers, towards women and youth.

“We want these opportunities to benefit women and promote their participation in the economy and the labour market. In supporting the Youth Employment Service, we want to see this programme have a strong bias in favour of young women. This will form the important bridge to jobs in the economy for young women.”

The Department of Women will in the current financial cycle work to ensure that the R2.1 billion allocated to small and medium enterprises benefits women.

Business sector continues to lag behind 

However, Dlamini expressed her disappointment in the business sector, which continues to lag behind national efforts to eradicate sexist economic exclusion.

“There is only one female Chief Executive Officer in the Top 40 JSE-listed companies. Worse still, the South African gender pay gap is disturbingly high.”

She recognised and applauded the pioneering efforts of former First Lady Zanele Mbeki in spearheading a Women’s Development Bank, which is focused on micro-financing.

“This bank has focused on micro-financing for women and has been able to deal with the hurdles that have been created by the finance industry. We [also] want to congratulate the CEO of the National Empowerment Fund [Philisiwe Mthethwa] for the efforts she has made in ensuring that women are given a priority in her programmes.” -