'Representation of women matters': Ramaphosa says strides made for equality, but more must be done

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President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
PHOTO: Gallo Images
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is important to celebrate women's achievements as part of Women's Day.
  • In his weekly newsletter, he said it was important for young women to see women in positions of power. 
  • He also called on men to be part of the solution to gender-based violence.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says strides have been made in achieving gender equality, but more needs to be done to fight gender-based violence. 

South Africa will commemorate Women's Day on Tuesday. 

In his weekly letter, Ramaphosa reflected on the 1956 Women's March to the Union Buildings, led by Rahima Moosa, Sophie de Bruyn, Lillian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph. The march was against discriminatory pass laws. 

Since then, Ramaphosa said, the country has progressed in offering opportunities for women. 

READ | Femicide research doesn't reflect reality of gender-based violence - activists

"In the South Africa of today, women enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms that their grandmothers and great-grandmothers were denied. Today, women can advance in any occupation, study in a place and field of their choice and own businesses," he said.

He added:

Thanks to employment equity legislation and other policies of the democratic government, women's representation in the workplace, in government and all of society continues to grow.

In Parliament, 46% of National Assembly members are women, he said. Sixty-two percent of the public service, he added, is made up of women.  

Reflecting on the recent appointment of Justice Mandisa Maya as the first female deputy chief justice and the appointment of women in other high-profile positions, Ramaphosa said: "Representation of women matters a great deal. We come from a painful past where young black women and girls had limited prospects."

"Seeing black women occupy the highest echelons of society as ministers, judges, business leaders, engineers and fighter pilots is an inspiration and encouragement to many who hope to follow their footsteps," he added. 

But he warned that gender-based violence was a huge societal problem.

"This is not a problem of women, but a problem of men. And it is men who are called upon to be part of the solution, starting with their own attitudes and conduct," he said.

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