We’ve made strides in gender equality

2012-08-04 13:43

As a country and a ­government, we have registered significant progress in the promotion of female empowerment and gender equality.

An array of measures introduced since 1994 to promote female empowerment and uphold gender equality have drastically improved the position and conditions of women in our country.

Women occupy influential positions in government and play an important role in decision making processes.

The living conditions of the majority of women have undergone significant qualitative change. We are making progress in the primary healthcare needs of women and girls, as reflected in the decline of child and maternal mortality, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

While strides have been made to empower women and promote gender equality, women still bear a disproportionate burden in the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

They continue to be marginalised in terms of economic opportunities, the labour market and access to land, credit and finance.

A life of abuse, discrimination and violation of human rights remains the harsh reality for most women in our country.

We believe one of the key ­areas in advancing female ­empowerment and gender equality is the budget.

Early this year, we launched the Women and Budgeting Initiative in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation.

Gender-responsive budgeting can promote the socioeconomic rights of women, ­children and people with disabilities, and is key to reducing inequality.

We are painfully aware that financial dependency on husbands, fathers, partners and family members has increased women’s vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, incest, abuse and murder.

Empowering women will help us win the war against poverty, inequality, unemployment and abuse.

The rural profile of South Africa continues to be one of female-headed households, growing poverty, human rights abuses and increased gender-based violence, unemployment, and the high prevalence of HIV and Aids.

We are determined to ensure that women, including women with disabilities, become the main beneficiaries of the land reform processes.

Together, we must ensure the progress made as a nation to promote female empowerment and gender equality is not reversed.

This explains women’s relentless opposition to the Traditional Courts Bill.

Rural women’s lack of access to resources and basic services is compounded by their unequal rights in family structures, as well as oppressive traditional practices. We are concerned the bill will ­perpetuate this.

» This is an edited version of a speech by Xingwana, the minister of women, ­children and people with disabilities, at the launch of Women’s Month 

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