Women not in Parliament to add glamour - Madonsela

2015-08-25 20:35
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday questioned whether the women sitting in Parliament had done enough to change the status quo of the country.

Delivering a keynote address on Women's Month at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard College on Tuesday, Madonsela also warned women that with great power came great responsibility.

"When women are placed in a position of power, they are not there to add numbers, colour, glamour or class, it is to make sure that they change the status quo.

"It does not matter what industry you are in, you have to ask yourself, 'What has changed because I am here?'

"If you look at the women who went to Parliament in 1994, they did not just bring class and glamour, they brought change and a lot of the laws that we talk about today were brought by those women."

'Power comes with responsibility'

Madonsela referenced Dr Frene Ginwala, whom she said was "more than just a speaker of Parliament".

"She made sure that there was a women’s charter. After Frene Ginwala’s group, what have the women that we sent to Parliament done?

"Are things different because they are there or are things the same? I am not in a position to pass judgement because I am part of this generation, so the judgement should be yours.

"I know in the JSE that the women there are making a difference and I know that the women in the judiciary have made their mark," said Madonsela.

She said women should use their power to make a difference.

"To those who are given power, remember that power comes with responsibility. The more you have, the more responsibility you have, that's the nature of life."

Madonsela said while South Africans celebrated the women of 1956, they should not forget the ordinary women "who were quietly making a difference in their communities".

'She just did what was right'

She said women like Charlotte Maxeke, Olive Schreiner, Priscilla Jana, Victoria Mxenge and Wendy Appelbaum changed the status quo.

"Priscilla Jana was the hero amongst us because she was not a person who would do it for the money or a position. She did not look at who was running the country and will notice her.

"She just did what was right," said Madonsela.

Madonsela said back then there were no prizes to be given.

"There were no trophies and TV so there were no rock stars. You did what you could to prevent or alleviate human suffering.

"These women were courageous, compassionate and brought their competence to solve problems. Today, how many heroes do we have among us that we pass by without even knowing what they do?"  

Madonsela said South Africa’s narrative on women was still stuck on 1956.

"I am not saying that we should not celebrate them, I am just saying let us celebrate the heroes who are quietly doing the right thing."

Read more on:    public protector  |  thuli madonsela  |  gender equality

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