Women in SA have a good story to tell

Friday, March 7, 2014

Johannesburg - With the world celebrating International Women’s Day tomorrow, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, says South African women have come a long way since the dawn of democracy.

Speaking at the Women’s National Consultation Forum as part of International Women’s Day on Friday, the minister said: “We have done well since 1994”.

She recalled a time when there was only a 2.7% representation of women in Parliament. There were also no toilet facilities for women in Parliament. Currently there is a 44% representation of women in Parliament.

“We have a good story to tell about the women of South Africa. We did not have a gender friendly Parliament, for a long time there was one female parliamentarian, which was Helen Joseph,” said the minister, adding that the representation of women in Parliament has steadily increased over the course of the years.

With International Women’s Day being commemorated on Saturday, Cabinet has added its voice, saying that it’s important for South Africans to reflect on progress made by communities and the country at large in advancing the rights of women.

“The day provides an opportunity for South Africans to pay tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of South African women in our communities,” Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly approved the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill (WEGE), a move described as a major milestone for gender equality in the public and private sectors.

The bill pushes for the gradual realisation of at least 50% representation of women in decision making structures.

“The bill affirms the commitments to the promotion of gender equality and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, as provided for in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and the international instruments that South Africa has signed and ratified, such as CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women), the MDGs, Beijing Platform for Action, the AU Protocol, the SADC Gender Protocol,” the Minister said earlier this week.

On Friday, Minister Xingwana described the bill as one of the successes of her department.

“It is a milestone for the women of South Africa,” she said, adding that it was important for women to sit on company boards as well.

The bill will now go through the National Council of Provinces, where further consultations are expected to take place at grassroots level across all provinces.

“I call on all women to make inputs on the bill,” she said. Consultations on the bill will kick-off tomorrow with a session in Gauteng.

Speaking on violence against women, Minister Xingwwana said that the issue was a societal one that required all sectors to work together.

On the issue of the achievement of the 2% target of people with disabilities being employed, Minister Xingwana said that progress had not been good.

“We have not done well but I’m happy to say that my department has led in that regard. As far as women are concerned we are at 57% women in senior positions in the department, we are also at 5.6% with people with disabilities in the department.

“We are calling on all other departments, not only government but also the private sector to give opportunities to people with disabilities.

“At the moment, we have 16 members of Parliament, who are people with disabilities and we also have 96 public representatives in provinces and municipalities, who are also people with disabilities,” she said. - SAnews.gov.za


Most Read

SA News on Facebook

SAnews on Twitter