_: This Gauteng Provincial Women’s Sector Parliament 2012 takes place at a very remarkable moment. The month of August marks the 56th anniversary of the historic march by women to the seat of the then government in open defiance of a brutal and repressive white minority regime. It is an opportune moment to remember countless heroines of our struggle such as Ruth Mompati, Lillian Ngoyi, AlbertinaSisulu, Helen Joseph, Ida Mtwana, Ruth First, Francis Baard, Dora Tamana, Dorothy Nyembe and many, many others.
It is that generation and those which came before them that made it possible for us to gather in celebration of the hard won victories for human dignity.
It is therefore important for our generation to recognise that the struggle for women emancipation did not started yesterday and will not be completed tomorrow. It is a process that will take many more years to be completed and in order for us to reach that point we must be willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
Today’s Women’s Sector Parliament is preceded by important developments in relation to the role of women generally in our country, including the United Nations (UN) declaration of the 2010-2020 periods as the decade for women. In particular, South African women are celebrating the ascendency to power of the following;
LindiweMaseko, the first African Woman to be elected Chairperson of CPA Africa Region;
DrNkosazanDlamini – Zuma as the first African Woman Chairperson of the African union Commission;
Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega -National Police Commissioners of Republic of South Africa
Indeed, one of the pillars of Women’s Sector Parliament 2012 depends and it is hinged on good governance and our ability to involve our people in our work of oversight and scrutiny, law making and cooperative governance thereby ensuring that they in turn renew and re-cultivate their trust and confidence in their public representatives and institutions they lead.
It is our duty as parliamentarians, in recognition of a fact that liberators do not exist as the people shall liberate themselves from the bandages of poverty and underdevelopment, that we do all that is possible to enable them to assume their rightful place in the process of women’s emancipation in economic, social and political arena.
At the same time, we must ensure that we use our parliamentary processes to deepen democracy through mobilising the masses of our people to participate effectively in governance processes.In this way we can be assured that our democracy will be sustained. We must be inspired by the understanding that people are their own liberators and our role as public representatives is to empower them to realise their potential.
Madam Speaker! Informed by the fact that South Africa is the most unequal society in the world and having observed that women are at the lowest paid levels of employment and that wage gaps are widening, surely this House must speak and resolve to that;
We must continue to create greater enabling involvement of women in negotiating processes and provide training and support.
It is clear, therefore, that to begin to encourage the women of South Africa to play an equal role in the political, economic and social structures of their country, the present ANC led government should create an economy based on the will of the people and a social order in which women are able to participate fully. Women`s crucial and positive role in the fight to eradicate the existing stereotypes to the fact that they can continue to contribute effectively to the restructuring of a new society.
This empowerment must mean that the ordinary women should be freed from the daily arduous and back-breaking tasks. This emancipation must mean that we make the necessary progress to arm women with education, with skills and information so that they can participate meaningfully in the economic and social development opportunities that are available in our country.
It is our belief that we will never win the struggle for women’s emancipation alone as government. We will accordingly strengthen our working relations with other women formation like the Progressive Women’s Movement, NGO’s and CBO’s to the following objective of the Government.
To empower women through human resource training.
To enable adequate access to finance and financial institutions.
To fast track them out of the second economy.
To ensure significant participation in agriculture and creative industries.
To improve access to basic services.
To increase participation in expanded public works programme.
We need to support women-led initiatives so that they can be able to empower other women. More and more opportunities should be created for women to enter the mainstream economy, including the banking sector to invest more in women-led initiatives. We are also concerned about the continued “exclusion and under-representation” of women at the executive level of many corporate companies.
We are also aware that the employment equity report which revealed that transformation in the work place, particularly in the private sector, was slow, which is a course for concern.
Debate on Traditional Courts Bill
In your deliberations on the Traditional Courts Bill the house should be robust in engagements and making sure that the place of women is legislated in a manner that all sections of women are advocating true liberation.
Traditional women leaders have not been given the same recognition as male chiefs who have been co-opted into new positions of power in their societies.
Traditional practices and attitudes toward women have carried over into public life. Women are under-represented in high offices of state and positions of decision-making in government, the military, central banks, finance and planning ministries.
The Bill must recommend to improve the gender equality of the Bill, and to ensure that the drafters took into account the gender implications of certain traditional values and practices. The impact of the Bill upon women must be assessed. The Bill in its present form had some serious shortcomings that would impede the delivery of fair justice to women, was not gender sensitive, did not make provision for fair treatment of women either during proceedings, or allow them specifically to participate as presiding officers.
There must be proper consultation with women, particularly those from rural areas. It must also be stated that it should be standard practice for legal services to be offered to women, and that a provision should be inserted in the Bill that would ensure that equal standing and equal treatment would be given to women during proceedings.
A Gender Equality Bill
The objective of the Commission on Gender Equality must be about promoting gender equality and to advise and make recommendation to parliament or Legislatures with regard to any laws or proposed legislation which affects gender equality gender equality and the status of women in our country.
It is the view of many that, Women’s rights are human rights.It is a fundamental principle of democracy and human rights.
With regard to improving the living conditions of millions of South Africans, especially women, the government must soldier on to achieve this goal of the founding mothers and fathers of our struggle for freedom to completely eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment.
President Jacob Zumaaddressingwomenat the Union Buildings to celebrate Women’s Day said “the Gender Equality Bill must be fast tracked if the country is to further level the playing field for women”.
We are confident that through the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, we will be responding to the calls made by many women of our country who find themselves discriminated against on the basis of their gender.
South Africa has undoubtedly made great strides in increasing the number of women in Parliament and government. However, women in numbers only, are not enough. The mere presence of women in political structures will not necessarily translate into women’s concerns being address or a better quality of life for women.
It therefore follows that, whether you as a woman are involved in politics, business, sports, academia and any other field imaginable, you have to be confident in your demand to be treated with dignity and respect.
As it is generally accepted, as a matter of fact in our continent that when you educate a woman, you educate a nation, therefore women must assume their rightful place in society which is not only in the kitchen but in all aspects of life.
Lastly, I hope that the Gauteng Provincial Women’s Sector Parliament 2012 will reaffirm our commitment to the core principles of law making, oversight and, Public participation to promote mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness.