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Source: Department of Foreign Affairs
Title: Dlamini Zuma: SA-German Women in Dialogue conference
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY DR NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS, SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE SOUTH AFRICAN-GERMAN WOMEN IN
DIALOGUE CONFERENCE, Berlin, Germany, 24 April 2003
Chairperson / Programme Director
His Excellency, SA Ambassador to Germany, Prof SibusisoB engu
Ministers present here today
Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of my Government and the people of South Africa I would
like to thank the organisers of this conference and the Government
of the Federal Republic of Germany for allowing us once more the
opportunity to deliberate on the important challenges facing my
country and our continent.
It is my fervent hope and wish that the conference will, while
building upon the excellent bilateral political, economic, cultural
relations and co-operation between the Federal Republic of Germany
and the Republic of South Africa, lay a firm foundation for the
consolidation of the existing bonds of friendship and ties among
women of our two countries. Long live our fraternal relationships.
Malibongwe Igama lamaKhosikazi!
The cooperation between South Africa and Germany, especially on
gender issues, can only but advance the cause of gender equality in
both our countries. Your Government's interest in and support for
the development of women in Africa has not gone unnoticed on our
We in South Africa and the rest of the continent will act to the
best of our ability to ensure that the process of reform continues
until gender equality has been achieved.
The challenges facing our continent and South Africa are no
different from those facing other developing countries. Ours, in
South Africa, is complicated both by the legacy of apartheid racist
policies and the patriarchal nature of our society. We are
confronted by the major challenges of poverty eradication,
underdevelopment and the growing income inequalities within our
nation and between men and women.
Since 1994, South Africa has been grappling with the transformation
of our society and the creation of a better life for all.
Colonialism and apartheid imposed a harsh life of oppression and
exploitation in general on all black people. South African black
women in particular, were the worst victims of white exploitation
and discrimination. They endured and suffered the triple oppression
of race, class and gender.
For black people, poverty eradication must therefore mean the
provision of basic needs, such as clean water and sanitation, which
so many among us in this audience take for granted. I am sure that
for most of us here, there would probably be more taps in our
houses than there are people. However, in many areas of our
country, the opposite is the reality.
Whilst for many in the developed world, the choice is between the
utilisation of electricity, gasoline, gas or solar energy in the
household - the developing world on the other is faced with the
stark reality of the need to still extend the electricity grid to
The provision of basic services such as water, electricity and
sanitation is very significant in bettering the quality of lives of
black women. The provision of these services simply means that no
longer shall they spend hours on end and endless energy searching
for firewood, drawing and fetching water. Such services if provided
enable women to spend their time more qualitatively and
In South Africa we have provided these services to millions of
people both urban and rural but there are still millions more who
are waiting for the delivery thereof.
Needless to mention that the provision of such basic services will
lead to the improvement of the general health of the populace and
consequently less diarrhoeal diseases, cholera and respiratory
Education, skills training and technological advancement remain the
cornerstone for development and improvement of people's lives. It
is a sad reality that many black women lack basic education, have
no skills and have limited access to modern technology. In this
regard, educating the girl child is not only critical in redressing
the imbalances of the past but also essential in poverty
eradication, especially the feminisation of poverty.
The provision of adequate, affordable and accessible health
services, especially in rural areas, remains essential. The
provision of universal free primary health care and free health
care for children under six years of age, and pregnant women have
made an enormous difference to our people.
Women still bear the primary responsibility of looking after the
sick at home. Special attention has to be paid to women when
dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, TB and malaria. Women tend to
be more susceptible to HIV infections than men. They have less
access to proper, balanced nutrition. We are now focussing on
mother to child transmission in addition to our normal HIV/AIDS
Additionally, a lot of HIV/AIDS programmes place emphasis on
home-based care - that relies solely on the availability of healthy
women to provide the human resource for that home-based care.
Employment and economic growth remain a big challenge for our
country and continent. Policies that address the skilled health
production resources, jobs, economic opportunities, employment
equity and basic salaries have to pay special attention to the
impact on women in general and black women in particular.
The development of a new human rights culture in our country and
continent should consider women's rights as an integral part of
human rights and should guarantee gender equality for women.
True to the words of one of the great heroes of our struggle, the
late Oliver Tambo, that "Our struggle will be less than powerful
and our national and social emancipation can never be complete if
we continue to treat the women of our country as dependent minors
and objects of one form of exploitation or another. Certainly, no
longer should it be that a woman's place is in the kitchen. In our
beleaguered country, the woman's place is in the battlefront of our
Women indeed are in the struggle for a non-racialism and
non-sexism. They are in the struggle for human rights, the struggle
against hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, disease and the
restoration of dignity. There is no dignity in poverty.
Another fundamental challenge is that of safety and security.
Whereas we have made very positive strides in making South Africa
safe and secure for all its citizens and tourists. We are now
focussing on the safety of women not only in the street but also at
Whereas domestic violence is an international phenomenon that
transcends race, class or religion, we have a programme focussing
on this. It is totally unacceptable that there are women who cannot
feel safe at home. We have the legal framework to deal with this
scourge. The most difficult challenge is to change the attitudes of
the family, society and the judiciary system. In some communities,
it is still frowned upon to charge a husband or partner with
Women of our country have made huge advances in terms of
participation in the political life of South Africa and in the
executive. After the 1994 elections, we had over 20% in our
Parliament, now it is 30 %, thanks to the ruling party, the African
National Congress, who has a 30% quota system for all their
structures including parliamentary seats. There were two women
Cabinet Ministers appointed then. By the end of the first five-year
term, we had four women Cabinet Ministers and now in 2003, we have
nine women out of a total of 27 Ministers. The Government has
decided to lead by example and to create role models for other
women, young and old. This has had a very positive impact on our
society. This needs to be translated to all other sectors of our
We incurred much criticism for the quota system with antagonists
arguing that women must be chosen because of merit. We have shown
in practice that there are plenty of women of merit, what the quota
system does is to force society to look for women and find them. I
am convinced that even if we had 50% we would still find excellent
women to fill that quota.
South Africa is peaceful and stable like the vast majority of
countries on our continent. Where conflicts exist we are as
Africans involved in trying to resolve them using methods that are
in line with African culture and tradition. I am glad to say that
there is a lot of progress whether it is in Angola, the DRC, Sudan
or Cote d'Ivoire.
Peace is essential for development and economic growth. Wars have
the most devastating effect on women and children as we have seen
now in Iraq. As a result of these wars, women and children are
displaced, are becoming refugees, encounter humanitarian problems
because of lack of food, there are no health care services and
there is lack of income. All of these impact most on women. The
vast majority of women are not involved in creating wars, but
remain major victims of war and conflict. Women would rather see
these conflicts resolved in amicable ways and in the context of
international laws within our multilateral organisations such as
the United Nations.
We are also dealing with the situation in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean
Government is at this point in time dealing with three important
Bills which are already in parliament, which we think will make a
difference in bringing solutions to some of the problems. The first
Bill will give citizenship to thousands of farm workers who were
removed from the farms and who originally came from Mozambique and
Malawi and this will allow them to have access to land for
resettlement and farming.
The second Bill that is being amended is the Information Bill. As
you would know this Bill caused an uproar within the international
community. This is being done in an effort to accommodate those
Thirdly, the draconian law and order maintenance act, which was
promulgated during the then Rhodesian government of Ian Smith, has
now been amended to be in line with democratic and human rights
The Government of Zimbabwe is also normalising its relations with
the commercial farmers. The government has drafted a Memorandum of
Understanding, which is now being discussed among the ranks of
commercial farmers, who will hopefully submit their response to
government soon. Tripartite discussions between government, labour
and business about the Zimbabwean economic situation have produced
a document, which spells out different responsibilities to be
undertaken. We are optimistic that a dialogue between all the
concerned political parties in the country, will resume.
The information technology has left Africa marginalised and if this
digital divide is not closed Africa stands the risk of being
further marginalised. As we attempt to close this gap, again, a
special focus has to fall on women and the girl child at
Indeed, Africa has strengthened its multilateral fora like regional
organisations and also through the launch of the African Union.
Unity, solidarity and partnership amongst ourselves remain critical
to our success. We have dared to call this an African Century, with
the concomitant responsibilities that accompany it.
The OAU, the predecessor of the AU, focussed mainly on unity among
the African people and the decolonisation process of the continent.
Now the challenge facing the AU is a concentration on issues such
as democracy, good governance, human rights, unity, peace, security
and development hence the development of our socio-economic
recovery plan - NEPAD.
Accordingly, we express our hope that Germany and its people will
join us in a true partnership for the development of the African
continent. NEPAD, the Millennium Development Goals of the UN and
the programme of action developed during the Johannesburg World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) provides us with
sufficient issues to help us improve the lives of millions of
Africans, especially women.
Women still tend to be employed in the low-paying jobs and in most
instances as domestic workers, in manufacturing textiles and as
farm labourers. In the economy they are often in the informal
sector. Indeed, this has to be addressed to integrate them into the
mainstream economy while programmes to train and assist them to
establish their own businesses should be targeted.
We need to build solidarity and mobilise women to participate in
their own emancipation. In South Africa progress that has been
achieved in all sectors has been in large measure because women
themselves participated not only in the struggle for emancipation
but are still evolved in the titanic struggle against poverty,
underdevelopment, peace and security and democracy.
Women, whilst depending on governments and parliaments to create
legal frameworks for the creation of a non-sexist society and for
their emancipation, themselves ought to be involved in those very
legal and government processes. Accordingly, they are not and
should not be passive recipients of charity.
Women in our country and continent have to be the locomotives for
development because of their energy, resilience and capacity for
hard work. They constitute the majority of the population producing
the other half as well.
Whilst we appreciate the solidarity and support of the developed
world, Africa carries the responsibility for its own development.
Attempts to create mirror images of the developed world out of
African societies would be disastrous.
As NEPAD has proven, we have the capacity, ingenuity, creativity
and intellect to shape the Africa we desire for ourselves. The
assistance that we receive from the developed world should
compliment these ongoing efforts.
Challenges of preserving our continent and the planet face us all.
We must rely on our co-operation as women of the world in the
creation of a world free of wars, racism, sexism, free of hunger,
poverty and under-development. The impact thereof is felt more by
Our collective efforts in Europe, Africa and elsewhere in the world
must guarantee the continued survival of humanity on this planet.
Together we must protect the biodiversity of our rivers, oceans and
forests and thus safeguard planet earth for future
I am confident that together we shall face and conquer these
challenges for the sake of humanity as a whole.
I thank you
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 24 April 2003