'We salute women frontline workers' - Ramaphosa marks International Women's Day with tribute

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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  • Women have played a "pivotal role" in the fight against Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
  • He marked International Women's Day by honouring the involvement of women in fighting the pandemic.
  • Ramaphosa added that the pandemic had highlighted women's ability to lead.

Woman have played an important role in the country's response to Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

The president marked International Women's Day by highlighting the involvement of women in fighting the pandemic.

"Since the coronavirus pandemic reached South Africa a year ago, the women of South Africa have played a pivotal role in the country's response. We salute the resilience and bravery of women frontline workers, who worked to fight the pandemic as nurses, doctors, emergency personnel, police and soldiers," Ramaphosa said in a statement.

He saluted healthcare workers like nurse Petronella Benjamin from Eerste River in the Western Cape, who lost her life to Covid-19 just days before she was due to retire after 25 years of service, as well as the efforts of thousands of fieldworkers like Azalet Dube from Doctors without Borders.

He also thanked teachers who ensured pupils were able to receive an education despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, and those leading civil society organisations.

"Women doctors, researchers and scientists have played and continue to play an important role in our epidemiological response. One of the Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials conducted last year, the Ensemble trial, was led by two female scientists, Professor Glenda Gray of the South African Medical Research Council and Professor Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre," he added.

READ | Cyril Ramaphosa | The role of women in fighting Covid-19 has inspired us to build an equal future

In the private sector, women business leaders have been visible in mobilising financial resources to support government's efforts, Ramaphosa said.

He said: 

No such tribute on [International Women's Day] would be complete without recognising the role of the women of this administration, whose efforts often go unacknowledged. It is women who lead the many government departments at the forefront of the national relief response.


"Our experience of this pandemic has once more demonstrated women's capacity to organise, collaborate, lead and achieve. Through their actions, they have demonstrated there is no such thing as 'a woman's place'."

However, Ramaphosa noted, South African women still faced many challenges, including a lack of representation in senior positions, unemployment, poverty and gender-based violence.

"But on this day, let us acknowledge how far we have come as a society thanks to the role of women leaders, particularly in helping the nation through this pandemic. As we have struggled against this disease, women have been present and prominent in almost every arena of life. This has set a standard for the kind of society we continue to build," he added.

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