Govt’s efforts to uplift women

2010-08-10 00:00

THE anti-pass protest by women in 1956 was a fight against inequality and injustice. Drawing inspiration from that protest, the KZN government is determined to work with women and intensify the struggle against poverty and unemployment.

This message was delivered by provincial MEC for Education, Senzo Mchunu, at the Women’s Day celebration in Mtubatuba yesterday. Mchunu apologised on behalf of Premier Zweli Mkhize who could not be there.

He said women unfortunately are the ones who are worst affected by poverty and unemployment. He said labour force surveys have consistently recorded a higher unemployment rate among women, compared to men.

Mchunu added that similarly the percentage of children that go hungry is substantially higher in female-headed households than in male-headed households. “I look at the statistics and I am reminded that according to the United Nations, ‘poverty has a woman’s face’, and that 70% of the world’s poor are women,” he said.

Mchunu noted that the Umkhanyakude District, where the celebration was being held, is known as one of the poorest areas in the province. It has an estimated population of 573 341. He said 45,2% of the population is male and 54,8% female.

“The reality is that if women in rural areas are excluded from participating in socio-economic development programmes, poverty will remain a permanent feature in our communities,” he said.

According to Mchunu, it is for this reason that the KZN provincial government is intensifying efforts aimed at levelling the playing field. Efforts in this regard include more funding given to the office on the status of women in the premier’s office.

There is also greater emphasis on rural development and agrarian reform with an intensive food security campaign. “Government has resolved to focus on agriculture as the platform from which we will launch our campaign to fight poverty and build our economy,” said Mchunu.

He added that to assist in the rollout of the campaign, a pack is designed for each household to engage in production of essential crops. Each pack can provide food for a family of seven and can produce up to five tons of produce.

“We want to ensure the vegetables that are produced are sold to hospitals and the overseas market through the Dube Trade Port.”

Mchunu said work is being done on how women can benefit from the tourism industry.

“The provincial government is monitoring the impact of tourism on local communities across the province, including Umkhanyakude.

“This district has natural attractions such as the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site. There are magnificent public and private game reserves such as Tembe Elephant Park, Ndumo Game Reserve, Mkuze Game Reserve and Thanda and Phinda private game reserves. Sodwana Bay is among the best diving spots in the world and attracts a multitude of international visitors.”

Mchunu also used the event to remind communities and local leaders to be more supportive of people with TB and HIV/Aids.

He said the African Union has adopted the period 2010 to 2020 as the African Women's Decade.

In keeping with the national theme for August as women’s month in South Africa, Mchunu emphasised the need to “work together for equal opportunities and progress for all women”.

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