Education for decent work - Xingwana
Cape Town - The pathway to decent work for women is through equal access to education, especially in science and technology, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana said on Wednesday.
"We need to build on the progress we have made by increasing access to education for girls," Xingwana said at an International Women's Day function at Kimberley in the Northern Cape, according to a copy of her speech.
"Young women have to be beneficiaries of various learnership and training programmes that are being initiated. Yes, women can be artisans, boilermakers or any other skill that our economy requires."
She said South Africa was commended at the United Nations for its work in education, health and social development, particularly with regards to girls' education.
But, Xingwana said while women in South Africa constituted the majority in schools and universities, they remained mainly in the human sciences.
"We need to make concerted efforts to increase the number of women in the field of science and technology. This was the focus area for the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women which ended last week in New York."
The government was, with the allocation of scholarships and research funding, trying to increase the number of women in engineering, science and technology.
Aside from education, unemployment and casualisation of labour, violence and abuse remained major problems still facing women and children.
The minister said the government re-introduced the family violence, child protection and sexual offences units in all 176 policing areas countrywide to address this.
"These units ensure effective access to justice for women and girls. In addition, forensic social workers are provided in all the units in order to assist women and girls in presenting admissible evidence in a court of law."
Xingwana urged women to use the upcoming local government elections to fight for their rights.
"These elections are an opportunity for the women of South Africa to demand equal representation and to ensure that our interests as women are fully represented. This is an opportunity to achieve gender parity."
She said women needed to vote for parties committed to gender equality.
"After all, this was the original demand of women at the International Women's Day one hundred years ago - the right to vote and to be elected into public office. It remains the fundamental right and demand of the women of South Africa today."