CAPE TOWN, Men and women must work together to help South Africa realise a non-sexist society in which all can enjoy equal rights and opportunities, says Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The government’s efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society are being undermined by the persistence of patriarchal cultures and practices in the country, he added when responding to questions in Parliament here Wednesday. He said it was essential that South Africa worked to eradicate patriarchy in all its forms.

To a significant extend, patriarchy continues to define relations within the home, where women are often confined to play inferior roles such as perform unpaid domestic labour, Ramaphosa said, adding that constraints imposed on women limited their opportunities to find work and access a number of opportunities, including education.

The unequal economic relations in the home are extended to the exclusion and segregation of women in the labour market as well. Women in South Africa continue to face challenges in increasing and in key and meaningful senior management positions as well as decision making positions. In many cases, women earn less than men for similar work.

He quoted a report on status of women which showed that where women are employed, it is often in precarious and insecure positions. As a result, women are more likely to live below the poverty line than men, with rural women being much more vulnerable than their urban counterparts.

Patriarchal relations are also prevalent in institutions like the State, where men tend to dominate despite formal equality that is often a bias against women.

As for gender-based violence, Ramaphosa said describe it as “alarming manifestations of patriarchy”, which are exacerbated by institutional norms and social conditioning which pressure men to have political/financial/social dominion over women.

Since the various forms of patriarchy are interrelated, the government has been working with civil society to deal with the challenges in a holistic manner, Ramaphosa said.

While the family unit is an important starting point, we cannot focus only on the family in attempts to reverse patriarchal attitudes. The democratic government has promulgated a number of legislative instruments and has embarked on a number of programmes to address the structural manifestation of patriarchy,” he added.

Some of the efforts that have been embarked upon include the provision of more affordable responsive finance, ensuring women are the primary beneficiary of government social grants, mobilising women farmers into agricultural co-operatives.