Parliament reflects on Women's Month

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pretoria - Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, says the sacrifices made by the women of 1956 paved the way to a free and democratic South Africa.

“Those women were not only fighting for political emancipation but economic empowerment, equal representation, access to justice, land rights and others, as articulated in the Women’s Charter of 1954 and reiterated in the 1994 Women’s Charter for Effective Equality.

“The country remains… forever indebted for the great sacrifices our foremothers made to ensure that future generations live in a non-racial and non-sexist country, where citizens enjoy equal access and participation in the economy,” Minister Shabangu said.

The Minister was addressing the joint sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, which was debating Women's Day on Wednesday.

Increased representation of women in Parliament

Reflecting on the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter and 20 Years of Freedom, Minister Shabangu noted that two decades on, there is a marked increase in the representation of women in Parliament and government, as well as in the private sector because of the laws introduced by government.

Women judges constitute about 30% of all the judges. South Africa also has a woman Judge President and a woman Deputy Judge President. Two of the Constitutional Court judges are women. Women constitute about 41% of the total magistracy. 

Women are also represented in the Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates Commission.

“South African women are not only holding leadership positions in national structures, but also in the international fora. Women are also making inroads into business leadership and heading up global [companies],” the Minister said.

According to the 2011 South African Report on the MDGs, South Africa has reached the target of registering girls at school. Minister Shabangu thanked the inclusive policies of government, which do not exclude a girl child from the school system as a result of pregnancy.

“Education remains a major catalyst for human development. It is important that the girl child has access to lifelong learning, as well as education and training, which will, in turn, contribute towards improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa. 

“This allows the continuation of efforts to ensure that the girl child participates in the government's economic empowerment such as Operation Phakisa, Ocean Economy and the National Infrastructure Plan economy.”

The Minister also welcomed the establishment of the Small Business Development Ministry, saying this will give women a chance to grow in the mainstream economy. – SAnews.gov.za

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