Has SA made strides for women's rights?

2016-08-09 08:36

During an interview ahead of Women' s Day I was purposively asked ' how far have we come vis-a-vis the rights of women in South Africa from a human rights perspective?'  He didn't want to hear the stock phrases that politicians  make about  SA having one of the most progressive constitutions in the world .That we are striving for a 50/50 parity representation in all spheres etc.

How far have we really advanced in advancing and protecting their rights? That was the thrust of his question.

This morning's Mercury' s front page headline  , in context, is instructive.It reads " SA makes strides for women"(9.8.2016). It made great reading but served as a warning against  luxuruating in the strides we've made thus far for the road to true freedom has many twists and turns before we reach the  promised land.

My response  to that question went along the following lines.We must,I started off as saying, ask ordibary women themselves how they feel twenty two years down the line.I was referring  to our mothers and sisters who are often not in the public  gaze .  I told him that I was present when the seeds for human dignity, freedom and equality which constitute the foundational provisions  in the Bill of Rights to our Constitution were planted and since  then through active conduct  of tendering  to the garden I have watched the flowers grow and begin to bloom and though I've yet to taste the full fruits of our efforts, we still have to tender to that garden and guard against  weeds and invasion by alien species and  we must as a collective continue  to fertilise the ground.  We must, I also quipped, try cross polination of ideas and ideals in that garden.

My parting comments were that as we mark the 60th anniversary  of that march by women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against  being forced by law under punishment of imprisonment, to carry the ignoble and derided  " dompas"or passbook at every moment of their lives I'm fortified that its judicial and civil society activism propagated by a free press that is leading the charge again erosion, alternatively invasion by stealth  of all rights and freedoms by the State as well as by private individuals and we must never forget  the stand that Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Helen Joseph and Sophie William- De Bruyn took on 9 August 1956.


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