by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa has commemorated Women’s Day with a pledge to tackle gender-based violence, drive women’s economic inclusion and ensure they have access to land.
These are parts of a commitment to achieve gender equality by 2030.
South Africa has also joined the Generation Equality, an ambitious and transformative agenda to end discrimination and violence against women and for their equal participation in political, social and economic life.
President Cyril Ramaphosa provided an outline of the empowerment of women on Monday, a day after the occasion to mark the anniversary of the day in 1956 when 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in the capital – Pretoria to demand an end to the dreaded pass laws and for their right to live in freedom.
“We have made a number of commitments under Generation Equality that will be given effect to through the National Strategic Plan,” Ramaphosa stated.
He said firstly, his government was going to drive women’s economic inclusion through public procurement.
Ramaphosa said his government had set the target of ensuring that at least 40 percent of goods and services procured by public entities were sourced from women-owned businesses.
Ramaphosa’s administration would also scale up support for women-owned small and medium enterprises and for women who work in the informal sector or were unemployed.
He said this would include engagement with the financial sector to make financial services accessible and affordable for women.
“Thirdly, we want to ensure more women have access to productive assets such as land,” the president said.
“It is essential that women are beneficiaries of the accelerate land reform programme.”
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also marked Women’s Day by advocating for the provision of land to women.
Ramaphosa disclosed that of the R75 million in coronavirus (COVID-19) relief earmarked for farming input vouchers, 53 percent of the beneficiaries will be rural women.
He reiterated government’s commitment to ensure women were protected from gender-based violence in the workplace.
He said to achieve this, his government would work at a national and regional level towards the ratification of the International Labour Organisation Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace.
“It is said that freedom is not given, but taken,” Ramaphosa said.
“The emancipation of women is only words on paper unless it is matched by commitment from all sectors of society.”
He said the status and position of women in South Africa today was vastly different to that of 1956.
“We have come a long way in realising a South Africa that is non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and free.”
Gender-based violence has nonetheless has surged.
– CAJ News