Mkhize hails women for their resilience

Thursday, August 29, 2013

By Bhekisisa Mncube

Pietermaritzburg - The outgoing KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, says Women’s Month is the time of the year that symbolically represents the scar that history has left on the face of the nation on matters of gender and by extension, human equality.

Mkhize was delivering an executive statement before the sitting of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in Pietermaritzburg today.

“We express our gratitude to women who have established and run community organisations, helping the vulnerable members of our society such as the disabled, the homeless and orphans,” he said on Thursday.

The theme for Women’s Month 2013 is ‘A Centenary of Working Together towards Sustainable Women Empowerment and Gender Equality’.

Mkhize said the most recent survey released by Stats SA shows that the number of unemployed women increased by 118 000, while the number of unemployed men increased by 4 000.

“Year-on-year, the number of unemployed women increased by 151 000 (or 6.8%), while the number of unemployed men increased by 103 000 (or 4.6%).”

He explained that of the 4.7 million persons that were unemployed in the second quarter of 2013, one in every two had not completed matric.

“As a result of the lack of education, a high percentage of women undertake low-skilled and low wage employment.  Women primarily serve as domestic labour and home-based care-givers and they consistently under-represented in high-skills, high-wage employment.

“South African women make up 52% of the entire population, and 57% of women are found in the informal trade sector where they operate their own businesses.”

While women formed the majority of small business owners, “they are significantly outnumbered by men in the formal sector of the economy”, Mkhize said.

Turning his attention to the progress made by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, he said the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has been used successfully to empower widows and women in general.

“The first phase of the EPWP, which started in 2004 till 2008, targeted a total of R1 million job opportunities.

“As at December 2012, the province has created 614 542 work opportunities cumulatively through EPWP. Out of the total number, 375 134 work opportunities were created for women which translates to 61%,” he said.  

The outgoing premier said programmes like Izandla Ziyagezana and Zibambele road maintenance were some of the programmes that have enabled large volumes of women, including widows, to participate in the economy.

“Currently, there are 41 380 beneficiaries that have been employed in the programme in 2013/2014 financial year.”

Meanwhile, in his farewell message, Mkhize heartily thanked Members of the Legislature for their unstinting support since he joined the provincial government in 1994. 

“We have rebranded KZN and presented it to the world as a province characterised by good governance and hard work. Nineteen years into our democratic South Africa, the province has been transformed into a peace haven and destination of choice for global investors and holiday makers from all over South Africa and the globe,” he said.

He paid a special tribute to President Jacob Zuma for the part he played in the early days of democracy in KwaZulu-Natal together with the inaugural IFP Premier Dr Frank Mdlalose. He said these two leaders worked tirelessly to achieve peace.

Mkhize said: “President Zuma taught us that leadership required courage and focus. He taught us that ours was a principled cause to change society for the better and therefore nothing could stand in our way to freedom and democracy,” he said. – 

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