Taking women empowerment to the next chapter

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pretoria - Despite the numerous achievements made in advancing women's rights, the push for women development still continues in the country, says Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

The Premier on Saturday said many women still bear the disproportionate burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

Speaking at the Union Buildings, where hundreds of Gauteng residents gathered for this year’s Women’s Day celebrations, Premier Makhura said the struggle now is to put women at the heart of South Africa’s economy, while addressing violence against women and children.

In line with the National Development Plan (NDP), Premier Makhura said the struggle will continue until the country sees more women in different leadership positions.

Over the next five years, he said the focus in the province will be on prioritising township economies to include more women and ensuring that women are well positioned to benefit from these developments.

“In the next five years, let us join hands to fight another important struggle - the struggle for radical socio-economic transformation. We must see more women own enterprises in our province. We must go to the townships and see more women being active and running their businesses.”

Premier Makhura said the province will not rest “until we see more women in boardrooms and in various leadership positions”.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma said his second term in office will be marked by radical socio-economic transformation policies and programmes aimed at putting the economy on an inclusive growth path by implementing the NDP.

The NDP states that the structure of the economy will be transformed through industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment and through strengthening and expanding the role of the State in the economy.

Premier Makhura said attention will also be given to transforming, modernising, rebuilding and industrialising Gauteng by focusing on the empowerment of women. He said women will be supported to develop their own township enterprises, cooperatives and SMMEs, which will produce goods and services that meet the needs of township residents.

He said entrepreneurs from the township have the capabilities to produce goods and provide services that will contribute to the mainstream economy.

However, in order to achieve this, they need assistance in the form of training, funding and economic infrastructure.

“That is why we want to empower women because when you empower women, you empower a nation.”

Protecting children

The Premier used the occasion to pay tribute to all the children who have lost their lives at the hands of criminals.

In recent weeks, the province’s focus has been on the safety of children after a number of them died from violent crimes.

Four-year-old Taegrin Morris was killed in Reiger Park about three weeks ago when he was dragged from the side of his mother’s hijacked car.

In Bronkhorstspruit, police are still searching for those responsible for kidnapping five-year-old Mongezi Phike last month during a hijacking. The hijackers held the child captive for five days, then dumped him on the streets of Johannesburg before he was taken to a children’s home.

Three-year-old Luke Tibbetts from Westbury was shot in the head after being caught in a shootout on the corner of Statler and Croesus streets. He died on Friday.

The most recent is the kidnapping of three-year-old Curburn van Wyk in Reiger Park, Boksburg. According to reports, the little boy was last seen in the company of a man in the Ramaphosa informal settlement.

“Those men who are abusing, raping and killing children are not men but vicious animals. The struggle is not over. Let us unite as men and women to fight against violence and crime perpetuated against women and children.

Premier Makhura called on communities to mobilise and recommit to community partnerships such as Community Policing Forums.

“Let us rededicate ourselves to ensure that Gauteng is women and child friendly. By doing that, we shall overcome and win the war against women and child abuse.”

Before addressing the crowds, Premier Makhura, together with acting Tshwane mayor Nosipho Makeke and representatives from various women’s organisations, retraced the steps of the Women’s March of 1956 from Lillian Ngoyi Square to the Union Buildings.

On this day in 1956, around 20 000 women participated in a national march to protest against pass law legislation, which required non-white South Africans to carry a document on them to prove that they were allowed to enter "white areas".

Women of all races and ages - from all corners of the country - marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

This year's festivities were held under the theme "20 Years of Democracy: Moving Women's Agenda forward through Socio-economic Transformation”.

The event at the Union Buildings attracted hundreds who braved the cold Gauteng weather. The mood was jovial as the crowd commemorated at the seat of government.

Women SAnews spoke to at the event acknowledged that although the country has made strides, cooperation was still needed to develop women.

“I find it wonderful that women are celebrated in this way, but when I look at our global and local rates of women and child abuse, and the fact that we don't yet live in a world of true equality, I despair.

“In that same vein though, I know that everything is a process, and I hope that by the time my daughter is an adult, the world will be a little more safe and equality-driven,” said Portia Ngomezulu, 34.

Thembi Maduna, 20, said Women’s Month for her was a time to “reflect on those who came before us and levelled the playing ground”. She said the day should serve as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. However, she said “we should tell the good stories as often as we tell the bad stories as women take their rightful place in society”.

Several female artists, including Thandiswa Mazwai, Winnie Mashaba and DJ Zinhle also performed on a giant stage erected on the lawns of the Union Buildings. – SAnews.gov.za


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