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Women came in large numbers to listen to President Cyril Ramaphosa despite fears of a low turnout at the National Women’s Day celebrations that took place at the Vryburg showgrounds, North West. This is after the provincial ANC was disbanded and replaced by different interim leaders. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
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The City of Johannesburg needs a mayor who will not pay lip service when it comes to women empowerment, but provide a clear roadmap for ensuring that more women get opportunities in the City of Johannesburg, writes Loyiso Masuku.
In the month that we commemorate the march by the
fearless women of 1956 to the Union Buildings, in protest of the dreaded pass
laws, it is disheartening that 63 years on, the women of South Africa's largest
city and the capital of the Gauteng Province have little cause to celebrate.
Under the reactionary and anti-poor mayor Herman
Mashaba, the women of Johannesburg, especially urban poor women, find
themselves at the margins of society.
To achieve a progressive and inclusive City of
Johannesburg one must appreciate the economic and social struggles faced by the
women of Johannesburg and South Africa at large, and the desperate material
conditions in which they live under.
A deliberate and decisive plan to better the lives of
women of Johannesburg, who continue to endure the most when it comes to
unemployment, lack of opportunity, and exposure to crime and violence, must be
put in place. This should include finding ways to have more women into the
formal economy at a time when joblessness has reached an all-time high.
We must put in place programmes that address the
social-ills faced by a 12-year-old girl who has recently entered womanhood, who
is being raised by an unemployed mother – the same woman who must provide for
three of her other siblings and make sure they go to bed with food in their
stomachs. This is the same mother who is also faced with attending to all the
changes that her daughter will now be faced with; emotionally, and otherwise.
Such imperative programmes include the distribution of sanitary products to
young girls in various schools in the City of Johannesburg; this is also in
attempt to decrease absenteeism in schools.
With a leader of Mashaba's calibre at the helm, who
has a limited understanding of the importance of such interventions, and
reduces them to "getting kids to focus on sex," the city faces a deep
We need to be proactive in our intervention to provide
conducive channels that encourage the development of young girls and women in
our beloved city.
What the City of Johannesburg needs is an activist
local government that will desist from excluding the urban poor out of already
existing initiatives with demonstrable track records of success.
The cancellation of the Jozi@Work programme by the
current administration has left over 8 000 people unemployed – with the closing
down of 12 local bakeries dealing a huge blow to women entrepreneurs.
Today, many of these women sit at home, with no hope
of a possible income for themselves and their children.
Under the ANC-led City of Johannesburg, specific
attention was given to ensuring more women access and benefit from the job
seekers database – especially indigent women with low levels of education.
With Cabinet having approved the Gender-Responsive
Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework, all
government plans and budget – including at provincial government level, will
now have to include gender-specific delivery targets.
The ANC is leading by example in the fight for gender
equality, and this can be seen in various positions of leadership. It is
noteworthy that 47% of the governing party's members of Parliament are women,
with a 50/50 gender parity in President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet.
On a provincial government level, the ANC's highest
decision-making body resolved that all provinces with a male premier should see
to it that at least 60% of the Cabinet consists of women, this is in addition
to the speaker of the legislature being a woman. This is exactly the progress
the bold women marched to see when they took to the streets in 1956.
Sadly, this progress cannot be seen in the City of
Johannesburg. Only seven out of 33 members of Mayor Mashaba's senior managers
are women. This is in a South Africa, which sees its population consisting of more
than 50% women.
Herman Mashaba and his coterie of male managers in the
City of Johannesburg are aloof to women's struggles. As a collective, they are
ignorant to the principles of affirmative action and redress.
Despite the gains made by the ANC government over the
past 25 years, women remain the victims of abuse and violence. Furthermore, women
are still second-class citizens in the economy.
It is under the ANC-led government that progressive
policies to redress the bitter legacy of racism and inequality have been
Women in the City of Johannesburg demand equal access
to opportunities and demand that their material condition be improved using
progressive policies of the ANC government in accessing that same
On August 22, 2019, the ANC in the City of
Johannesburg will table a motion of no confidence against a mayor who has not
only displayed utter disregard for the needs of women in the city – but who has
woefully mismanaged its finances.
The financial situation of the City remains
precarious, with millions of unspent grants. This includes funding and
conditional transfers for housing and other projects. This is reflective of a
municipality that is failing to spend on social upliftment programmes. Women
who suffer the most because it is they who are in the greatest need of housing,
shelter, safe and reliable transportation, and basic services.
The City of Johannesburg needs a mayor who will not
pay lip service when it comes to women empowerment, but provide a clear roadmap
for ensuring that more women get opportunities in the City of Johannesburg.
A city as complex as Johannesburg requires the kind of
leader who will clearly and decisively show that social spending by all
municipal entities prioritises women and children, one who reassures the women
of the city that their unique needs are being addressed.
Women of Johannesburg cannot be passive bystanders in
their own destiny.
We are born of Winnie Mandela, Florence Mophosho,
Francis Baard, Charlotte Maxeke, Rahima Moosa, Ruth First, Lilian Ngoyi, Dora
Tamana, Adelaide Tambo, Albertina Sisulu, Bertha Gxowa. Their spirit rests in
us forever. We carry the spirits of the generation of 1956 and it is for this
reason that we look forward to our date with the mayor on August 22, 2019.
- Loyiso Masuku
is the deputy Secretary of the ANC in Johannesburg and a PR Councillor of the
ANC Caucus in the City of Johannesburg.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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