0n 8 March the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD). International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD is also an opportunity to transform this momentum into action, to empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realise their full potential.
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) is particularly pleased that this year’s theme pays a special attention to rural women too. Often times these are the most marginalized people. When institutions and people talk about empowerment and development, rural women are forgotten, yet they play a pivotal role in ensuring that the activism and voices are counted and heard when it mattered the most.
The theme as proclaimed by UN Women is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. And also echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population, and are being left behind in every measure of development.
This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice #Metoo movement. Sexual harassment, violence, human rights violation and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change.
Rural women till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience. Yet, on almost every measure of development, because of deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination, they fare worse than rural men or urban women.
In the year of Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, the CGE is making a clarion call that the #PressforProgress for rural women, gender parity and women empowerment should be accelerated. In so doing all the endeavours towards this call will be honouring all the heroines and unsung heroines of the women struggle.
Guided by the legal prescripts, Section 187 of the South African Constitution, the CGE Act 39 of 1996 as amended, the Commission will rollout outreach and legal clinics throughout the country to educate the public particularly rural women on empowerment and development and also receive complaints in relation to the violation of gender rights
The CGE encourages the public to utilize the Toll- free Number 0800 007 709 to report matters that relates to violations of gender rights.
Source: Government of South Africa