Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Media Room Provincial Caucuses Jobs Links Support Services Tenders ANC Homepage

Address by the Honourable Minister in The Presidency Responsible for Women, Mp Susan Shabangu, on the occasion of the Women's Day Debate

18 October 2017, National Assembly, Parliament of the RSA

Honorable Chair;
Honorable Members of Parliament;
Members of the Public in the Gallery; and
Distinguished Guests

This year we are celebrating the 61st Anniversary of the 1956 Women's March to the Union Buildings. We remember the twenty thousand brave women who marched fearlessly against apartheid laws and other injustices.

2017 is declared the Year of OR Tambo, who is turning 100 years on 27th of this month. He was an exemplary champion for the emancipation of women during the dark days of our struggle for liberation, and his wisdom continues to inspire us in our efforts for women emancipation.

His thinking about gender relations was so developed that he never saw women in gender roles. Those who worked closely with Tambo attest to his insistence on relating to men and women as equals and as comrades.

To him, it was not enough to speak about equality without action. He did not see gender in his lenses and true to his conviction, he appointed women in key positions and often delegated them to various multilateral platforms when opportunities arose.

Amongst others, Frene Ginwala, Gertrude Shope, Lindiwe Mabuza, and Sanki Mahanyele were part of his collective leadership in different areas of the struggle based on their strengths. These are women who worked, led and contributed to our struggle for liberation. We pay tribute to OR Tambo's role in advancing women.

What we take from OR Tambo is the call to unite across gender in order to transform society. It is following his leadership that we continue to partner with men formations to end gender discriminations. Through these partnerships, men are challenging themselves and others on inherited, deep-seated patriarchal attitudes. We call upon all men to rise and take a stand against violence on women.

Chairperson, the 2017 commemoration of Women's Day and Month took place under the theme "Women United in Moving South Africa Forward." We continue the call to unite all sectors towards our goal to address gendered imbalances.

Beyond continuing violence against women, we are witnessing injustice done to girl-children by those entrusted to protect them in our schooling system. This calls into question the values of some of those entrusted with socializing and educating our future generations.

In order to effectively challenge and transform these social ills, collaboration between parents and communities is urgently needed. We welcome the proactive response of MEC Lesufi to the revelations of abused girls. We acknowledge the partnerships we have with religious leaders and our justice system to help us respond to injustices.

The role of local communities, even during the years of struggle against apartheid, was crucial in mobilizing society against social ills. Therefore, as we fight against violence on school children and other injustices on women, including femicide and domestic abuse, families and local communities become important role-players.

This year we also joined the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and other civil society organisations to launch their study on the impact and extent of Gender-Based Violence in our society. This has led to us agree to look at various research studies which deal with violence against women in order to come up with a mechanism to collectively fight violence in our country.

In partnership with the South African Council of Religious Leaders, the Honourable Deputy President addressed the Rhema Bible Church during a special sermon that was in line with the launch of their campaign to fight against Gender-Based Violence.

The Justice and Security Cluster, through the Minister of Police, also launched its 6-Point Plan on addressing violence against women. This Plan will assist us in addressing the role of the Police in ensuring that perpetrators of gender-based violence are brought to account before the law.

The Women's Month continues to present an opportunity for all South Africans to celebrate the struggle of women of 1956 who have contributed in shaping our democracy. South Africans have internalized August as Women's Month in their annual calendar of activities. The purposeful nature of Women's Month events across the country and internationally demonstrated that August does not only belong to government but it belongs to all South Africans and the international community.

This year August 9th was celebrated in Kimberly. Over 18 000 people attended the successful celebration. Looking back at the road travelled in the past 23 years, in his keynote address, His Excellency President Zuma said, and I quote,

"While we celebrate the progress of women in the public sector, there is a continued exclusion of the majority of the population, both women and Africans, from decision-making positions in the private sector"

Our diplomatic partners, such as the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands brought together women from diverse backgrounds to celebrate Women's Month and share ideas on matters advancing the interests of women.

Further, women in different industries like Engineering, Mining, Transport, tele-communications hosted multiple events in their fields of work to take stock of their strides and to identify further challenges in the advancement of women.

On the eve of Women's Day, women CEOs and other executives came together under the banner of SHEOs on a cold Johannesburg evening to camp outdoors in raising funds for Door of Hope, which provides a home for abandoned babies born of mothers who cannot care for them.

The South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, led by Judge Shane Kgoele, held its 13th Annual Conference to recognize women's month but also their role as women judges in ensuring that the justice system responds to those who need it, under the theme "Let's wrap the wide arms of the Law around those who need it".

In addition, government continues to prioritise women's access to economic opportunities and, in particular, access to business financing and credit.

We welcome the decision of JSEs to make it mandatory for all listed entities to have a policy of promoting gender diversity at board level, and to disclose how they are performing against this policy.

Government's continuing improvements in regulating business through the DTI Codes, whose key requirements are black executive management as a percentage of all executive directors and black female executive management as a percent of all executive directors.

It is refreshing to learn that large corporates have created a culture of competitiveness between themselves on the adoption and implementation of gender mainstreaming policies.

Research conducted by PwC shows that South Africa continues to lead its global counterparts when it comes to senior leadership roles and female representation at Board levels.

It is well-established that the domination of women by men is highly linked to economic power and control. Therefore, a meaningful end to gender inequality begins with combined effort by all sectors.

Honorable Chairperson, despite our legislative and policy interventions, as well as our united efforts across sectors to build meaningful participation of women in decision-making and executive structures of our economy, our biggest challenges remain the psychological barriers that have historically distinguished men from women.

Poverty alleviation thus becomes a process and project that compels government, private sector and civil society to work together in changing the social status of our communities, and building confidence models. Women can no longer be left out of the mainstream. They must be involved in the value-chain of the global economy.

« back