Social cohesion programmes must empower women

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Deputy President David Mabuza says all sectors of the economy must prioritize programmes that seek to protect and empower women in order to achieve true emancipation of women, social cohesion and nation building.

The Deputy President said this when he fielded questions from MPs in his maiden question and answer session at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

He said more needs to be done by political parties and the private sector to empower women and to keep girls in the classrooms, in training, in employment and in enterprise development.

“Our commitment therefore to ensure women’s participation in the economy is unequivocal. 

“But these initiatives have no chance of success if these women continue to bear the brunt of gender-based violence, usually in the hands of their intimate partners.

“Essentially what I’m saying is that programmes that seek to build social cohesion must operate from a basis of empowerment that will address gender inequality, bring a sense of security for the vulnerable and address the wealth gap that is racial in character,” he said.

ANC MP Thomas Makondo had asked what - in light of his social cohesion responsibilities - has been the Deputy President’s findings with regards to violence against women and its effect on their ability to participate actively in the mainstream economy and what government was doing to ensure that women do not feel alienated, but that the regard themselves as protected partners in the social cohesion and nation building projects.

The Deputy President said the Constitution envisages a democratic state founded on human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedom.

He said the Constitution enjoins all to give back to a new society founded on human dignity, non-racialism and non-sexism.

As such, violence perpetrated against women is against the founding principles of the Constitution.

“Prejudice and discrimination against women is a violation of our constitution and all that we seek to build as a nation.

“A nation that undermines the aspiration of women and oppresses them cannot have peace nor social cohesion and nor development.

“The neglect and social exclusion of women in our democratic breakthrough will mean a betrayal of our liberation struggle,” he said.

The Deputy President said South Africa’s liberation struggle was not just about ending national oppression.

He said it was also about ending the triple exclusion of women as mothers, sisters and daughters.

“The ANC government remains ceased with this historic task of ensuring the full emancipation of women.

“Patriarchy remains only present in our language, in our day to day doings, in our idioms, our metaphors, stories that we tell and our performances.

“The liberation of women demands that those who are a source of life – women – are also freed from sexism and oppressive language that is packaged as … ancient wisdom. That is what our time requires,” he said.

He said, meanwhile, that the reality that cannot be ignored is that South Africa is a plural society with notable racial, religious, ethnic and cultural diversity.

He said that the critical point is how these are managed in a manner that supports the country’s collective and mutual development.

“A cohesive society must be able to balance such contractions in a mutually reinforcing manner and work towards reducing if not eliminating inequalities in our society.” – SAnews.gov.za

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