Pretoria: Government’s progressive laws and policies are attracting the international community to choose South African women to take up strategic positions on the African continent and on the world stage. “The progressive laws and policies have seen the international community identifying women from South Africa as suitable to take up leadership and decision making positions in Africa as a continent and internationally within the United Nations and other institutions,” said the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, on Sunday.
She was addressing delegates at the Working Session with Women in Leadership and Decision-Making in Pretoria. Xingwana also used the platform to congratulate Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi on her appointment as Special Envoy for Gender at the African Development Bank in Tunisia and former Deputy President Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as Executive Director of the United Nations (UN) Women.
Xingwana said the purpose of the session was also to celebrate the achievements of South African women in driving the gender equality agenda and to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals as the 2015 deadline looms.
She said South Africa had some of the most progressive policies and programmes, which sought to advance women empowerment and gender equality.
“We are here to reaffirm our commitment to the objective of building a society that strives relentlessly towards genuine women empowerment and gender equality.
“I am confident that arising from the discussions today, we will collectively move with speed to implement programmes that will accelerate the realisation of the total emancipation of women,” she said.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said she was pleased with the strides women have made since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.
“I am happy and proud about what the women of my country and the world have achieved. But I am also very aware that we have a long way to go. It is important to celebrate women’s achievements and to encourage women to do more.”
The former Deputy President said some of the things that she would be taking to her new job include issues of equity, and the redistribution of resources post 2015.
Mlambo-Ngcuka, however, cautioned that she could not promise the women of Africa “heaven and earth” in her new position.
“I don’t want to want to make promises when I have not even started the job. I want to get there first so that I don’t over promise and don’t deliver,” she said.
Also present at the session was Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who spoke on matters of social security, an issue that is closely linked with women development. She noted that there were more than 15 million South Africans who were receiving government grants.
She said statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlighted that there were more than two million children who are out of the system.
“We used to believe that they were in the rural areas, but we’ve discovered that they are [mainly] in Gauteng and the Western Cape,” she said. The session, which is being held during Women’s Month, is in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry.