Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma says the state has the responsibility to ensure that women live their lives free of fear, degradation and brutalisation.
Speaking at a Progressive Women's Movement Event n Friday night, President Zuma women do not have to suffer from the effects of poverty and disease. He praised the country's women for their role in the struggle for liberation.
"We are working to ensure that Africa becomes free from being a country of origin, transit and destination points in the trafficking of persons, especially in women and girls," said President Zuma.
He said the introduction of the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities will help government respond better to issues facing these groups.
The President warned against the under representation of women in positions of power.
"It has been consistently demonstrated globally that the under representation of women in politics and decision making positions has an adverse effect on national development as a whole," he said.
"We must work together to ensure that women lead their lives free of fear, degradation and brutalisation."
But South Africa, President Zuma said, has made great strides in ensuring that women occupy significant positions in government.
"Our Parliament is ranked high internationally with regard to women representation," he said.
The President said South Africa was currently in the top 20 countries in Africa and the world in terms of the most powerful businesswomen. This showed that women had proved their worth in many fields contributing to the development of the country, he said.
The Progressive Women's Movement should be utilised strategically to advance the cause of gender equality, in commemoration of the women of 1956 and in acknowledgement of the challenges still facing women.