South Africa: Parliament Statement on Women’s Day

South Africa: Parliament Statement on Women’s Day

South Africa: Parliament Statement on Women’s Day

South Africa: Parliament Statement on Women’s Day

Today marks a significant moment in our nation’s history as we commemorate South African Women’s Day. On this occasion, we honour the indomitable spirit of the women who have shaped our nation’s destiny and continue to inspire us to strive for a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

This day holds a profound significance as we reflect on the historic Women’s March of 1956, when women from diverse backgrounds united against the oppressive apartheid regime’s pass laws. Their unity and determination ignited a beacon of hope that still guides us today.

As we celebrate the progress we’ve achieved, we recognize the challenges that still persist. Gender-based violence remains a blight on our society, affecting women and girls. Parliament, acknowledging the urgency of this issue, has taken vital steps to combat this pandemic, which include passing three comprehensive laws aimed at strengthening our fight against gender-based violence. These laws reinforce our commitment to protecting the rights and dignity of all women and girls, while ensuring that perpetrators face the full force of the law.

Under the oversight of the police committee, the police department’s capacity to effectively combat gender-based violence and femicide continue to undergo rigorous examination. This includes a focused evaluation of the commitment to ensuring police stations are equipped with dedicated desks specifically designed to handle cases of gender-based violence, the implementation of gender-based violence desks, provision of essential evidence collection kits to stations, addressing attitudes of certain police officers, as well as the training of police officers in victim empowerment to creation victim-friendly services.

Moreover, addressing the root causes of gender-based violence entails a focus on the behaviours of men, who are the perpetrators of such acts. Parliament recognizes the urgency of this matter and has actively engaged with various sectors of society through initiatives like the Men’s Parliament, aimed at confronting this issue head-on.

The South African Legislative Sector (SALS) recently convened a gender summit, evaluating our progress in gender mainstreaming and combating gender-based violence. This summit has paved the way for a more inclusive and gender-responsive legislative agenda in the seventh parliamentary term. We recognize the significance of engaging civil society, businesses, and other stakeholders to create lasting change.

Moreover, we acknowledge that women are disproportionately affected by the triple socio-economic challenges of unemployment, inequality, and poverty. Too often, women bear the brunt of these burdens, and this undermines the fabric of our society. Through legislation, policy-making, and collaboration with stakeholders, we are determined to create an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment, job creation, and access to opportunities.

It is a stark reality that despite being the majority of our population, women remain underrepresented in decision-making spheres. We must shatter these barriers and ensure that the voices of women are not only heard but actively shape our policies and laws. Through gender mainstreaming and targeted interventions, more must be done to achieve greater gender parity in all aspects of our society. All sectors of society need to redouble their efforts, including practical policy interventions, to make this a reality.

As we applaud the recent achievements of our remarkable sportswomen in Banyana Banyana and the Proteas, we draw inspiration from their tenacity and bravery. These athletes embody the spirit of our nation, echoing the resilience of the women who marched in 1956.

Addressing equal pay for equal work is not just a matter of principle; it is a fundamental step towards achieving true gender equality in all facets of our society. Women athletes, who represent the pinnacle of dedication and skill, deserve recognition that transcends gender disparities. It is imperative that all sectors, from business to sporting federations, collectively engage in rectifying this disparity. By ensuring equitable remuneration, we not only honour the hard work and achievements of our sportswomen but also reinforce the principle that equal efforts deserve equal rewards. Through collaboration and commitment, we can catalyse positive change and set a transformative example for a society where gender should never be a determinant of one’s worth or earnings.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament call upon all South Africans to unite in the spirit of solidarity, to collectively combat gender-based violence, uplift the marginalized, and eradicate the scourge of poverty and inequality. We stand on the shoulders of the women pathfinders who have paved the way for us, and it is our responsibility to carry their legacy forward.

In closing, we extend our warmest wishes to all South Africans on this Women’s Day. May this day serve as a reminder of the strength, courage, and unity that have brought us this far, and as a beacon of hope for a future where all women and girls can thrive, unhindered by discrimination or violence.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.