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Speech on National Women's Debate by Hon. P Bhengu

18 October 2017

Hon Chairperson
Hon Members

Access to land for women has for a long time been a challenge for women. Although land can be acquired in a variety of ways, whether property inheritance, purchase, and transfers from the government in land reform programmes, women still face more hurdles than men.

Hon Members

South Africa's laws and policies governing rural women's land rights and access to land are largely adequate. Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) is a government policy on rural development. The main focus of the programme is on agrarian transformation and land reform as pillars of rural development, alongside infrastructure provision such as housing, energy, sanitation, schools, clinics, boreholes and water reticulation system in rural areas.

Hon Chairperson

The National Development plan views agriculture as critical to employment and food security. It is estimated that agriculture would potentially create a millions jobs by 2030. The 2030 vision speaks of inclusivity and integration of rural area. Women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. Women play a central role in addressing rural development, including food security measures, but vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed. Agriculture is the main alternative for Rural Women and they comprise largest percentage of the workforce in agricultural sector. But women do not have access and control over all land and productive resources. Women continue campaign against marginalisation and discrimination terms of rural economic opportunities, rural labour markets and access to land.

Hon chairperson, Hon Members

Through the ANC led government, the NDP identified the key interventions for women in rural development, such as the supporting them in setting up of Agri-parks. Agri-Parks will serve as an important mechanism to execute the NDP's proposed rural development strategy due to its potential for supporting small - scale agricultural production and stimulating agro-processing in rural areas.

Whilst continuing the struggle to ensure greater ownership means of production, ANC led government tabled Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, that its aim is to reverse the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and to ensure a just and equitable distribution of agricultural land to Africans, and women in particular.

During 2015/16, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, collaborating with Provincial Departments of agriculture provided financial support towards agricultural drought relief, focusing on the provision of animal feed, drilling and equipment boreholes for smallholder and subsistence producers.

The empowerment of women in the rural area is central to addressing exploitation and equipping women with the necessary skills to develop the rural economy through local economic development programmes that provide for sustainable communities. Empowering them is key not only to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also to overall economic productivity, given women's large presence in the agricultural workforce. Necessary skills in adoption of modern agricultural techniques that are tailored to local conditions and that use natural resources in a sustainable manner, with a view to achieving economic development without degrading the environment. Women have and continued to play role in food security measure programmes. It is extremely important to recognize the role that rural women play and the contribution that they make in networks and cooperatives. It is necessary to give them greater political and financial support and involving them in the training and conducting of development programs that enhance women's role in agricultural production.

Progress has been made in the implementation of Rural Development and Land Reform programmes across the country. Farms are supported under the Recapitalisation and Development programme and farmers being trained through the programme, but there is a greater need to empower most especially women in rural areas.

In conclusion Hon Chairperson is that during our oversight to North West it became clear that women are not in leadership positions and they do not have the necessary skills to manage the farms that have been leased to them by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. As the Women portfolio committee we recommend that the Agriculture Department should equip women with skills and resources that will enable them to feed and support their families.

I thank you Hon Chairperson...

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