Honourable Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women;
Representatives of Civil Society and Women’s Movement here present;
Ladies and gentlemen and
Fellow South Africans
We stand before this august House to present the Budget Vote 13 of the Department of Women for the 2018/2019 financial year.
We present this budget during a difficult time in our country. It is as if South Africans have declared a war against women. In the street, in the home, the factory, the office, the mine, the school, the taxi rank, in the combis that operate scholar transport, at church, the university, the playground, the boardroom. As mothers, as professionals in the corporate sector, as gogos; women are not safe in our society.
The situation of women in our country has reached levels where it has become important to ask; What exactly is the meaning of freedom for women? We must reflect as a society on where the women of South Africa are after 24 years of democratic rule.
Our hands are dripping with the blood of a two month old baby, toddlers and girls that are raped by their fathers, uncles, cousins, teachers, bosses, lecturers and friends in our families. Young women who are at their prime are raped, maimed and killed by their boyfriends and their husbands. These lovers do not understand the words angifuni, angisakufuni, ga ke sa go rata, I do not love you anymore!
Constable Rasuge, Karabo Mokoena, Zolile Khumalo, Reeva Steenkamp and many other thousands of women in our country lost their lives in the hands of men who were their lovers. Shockingly, our femicide rate is five times more than the global average.
South Africa is a Country with the best Constitution but women’s rights are violated on a daily basis. They are violated even at institutions of higher learning. Today young men at universities, where they should focus on their future and be able to internalise that life is navigated through negotiation and understanding are killing their girlfriends. Crime is committed by role models, leaders, by highly educated and prominent people.They prefer to risk going to jail and think their lies will protect them. Others depend on women not breaking the silence.
Big business has let women down!
On the one hand we have been mobilising young women to pursue careers in geology and mining. The anti-climax is that they are greeted and welcomed with violence and death in the mines.
We are told that the mining sector is the most successful and making huge profits out of the sweat and toil of our people. This sector is a monster to our women. We are told that the business that controls the means of production, the business that destroyed families in our land is still undermining women. They firstly took our fathers from our mothers, killed some of them, brought some of them back home on their death beds is still undermining women.
When you have one woman amongst a team of ten men underground in this rough, labour-intensive industry, she becomes vulnerable to various forms of abuse. Because the machinery and tools are designed for the male physique, women who can’t use heavy machinery are forced to perform sexual favours to get their male colleagues to help them fulfil their tasks.
The industry is still seen as a man’s world.
While we applaud the increased participation of women in the mining industry since the government legislated the requirements for 10% quotas, we are concerned that they remain powerless in this male-dominated field. Sometimes women are given very difficult jobs in the name of pseudo-equality and have to sell their bodies to do those jobs.
What is sad is that these people have never thought about how they get these profits, they never think about our suffering because they are only concerned about making profits. They have not or barely acted on violence against women.
Then those who are filthy rich with our children’s blood always walk tall and pride themselves with the riches they have made.
Those who work underground have to contend with ablution facilities and work environments that are unhygienic, especially during their monthly periods. Even the overalls and work gear is still designed for men.
We will be writing to the Minister of Mineral Resources to ensure that security for women in mining is increased, that policies on gender-based violence in the mining sector are developed and implemented, and that gender norms are addressed systematically.
We have been able to make gains in other areas such as having professional women and CEOs in the private sector and state-owned enterprises. We have women Directors-General, we have women Ministers, Premiers, MECs, MPs, MPLs, Mayors, Councillors and Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees and Chapter 9 institutions.
In fact you demand a Chapter 9 institution, you get it; you demand an office on the status of women, you get it; you demand a Ministry of Women, you get it; you demand cooperatives, you get them; you demand small or micro businesses, you get a Ministry; you demand the Domestic Violence Act, you get it; you demand a protection order, you get it; you demand that men must pay maintenance for their children, you get that. But, when you demand equal pay for equal work, you are told that you do not know what you are talking about!
If you demand a woman president, you are called names. You no longer have an identity. You are insulted. You are made to feel small. You are treated as if you have to depend on the mercy of some man’s mind for your future.
The measurements that are used to measure the capacity of men is not equal to the measurement used to measure the capacity of women.
In fact, on the issue of the president, it would be made as if, there was never a woman president in the movement. Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu whose centenary we celebrate this year was the President of the UDF during difficult times.
UMama Albertina Sisulu ubeyigorhakazi lomzabalazo wenkululeko yabantu base South Africa. Waphinde waba uMungameli we FETRAW. Ubeyisigayigayi somzabalazo ebesi ngawubangi umsindo. Sikhuluma nje, kukhona abadlule ezandleni zika mama uSisulu. Sikhuluma nje kukhona omama abakhiwe umama uSisulu ngezikhwepha zakhe. Sikhuluma nje wakhipha amasotsha omkhonto wesizwe aye yolwela inkululeko yabantu baseMzansi Afrika. Yikho nje silapha namhlanje sikwazi ukuzikhulumela. Sikhuluma nje wake waboshwela endlini kwakhe. UMama uSisulu waze wakhipha nabantwana bakhe bayolwela inkululeko yethu. UMama uSisulu ubeyithanda kakhulu infundo ngoba walwela ukuthi abantwana bakhe bayofunda. Abantwana bakamama uSisulu nezinye izinkokheli baphila impilo enzima kodwa abazange baziqhelise nomzabalazo. Yilapho kumele sifunde khona ukuthi ukuzinikela nokuhlonipha kubalulekile. Yilapho kumele sifunde khona ukuthi imfundo ibalulekile kakhulu ngokubonela kubantwana abafunda ebunzimeni obukhulu.
Kumele singomama sihlale sazi ukuthi imfundo ibalulekile, futhi into ayilwela umama uSisulu eyemfundo ekhokhelwa ngokuphasa. Ibalulekile ngoba isiza abantwana ikakhulukazi bamantombazana babe nekusasa eliqinile.
Bebebabili kuphela omama besizwe lapha eSouth Africa. Umama uSisulu nomama uWinnie Madikizela-Mandela. These were strong women who were leaders in their own right.
It is not an act of favour or pity to put women in decision-making bodies.
This year also marks the centenary of the women’s struggles. The Bantu Women’s League which was the fore runner of the ANCWL was formed in 1918. Its first president was Charlotte Maxeke. Like Comrade Albertina Sisulu and Winnie Mandela, umam’ Charlotte Maxeke would have been the president of the ANC and the country. Much as we have made progress as women in South Africa, a lot still needs to be done. We have to close gaps and think strategically about what we have and always ask the pertinent question, of how that is going to change the quality of lives of women.
We have already spoken about what we have, but how is the society receiving that? If we look back at some of the people that have been women Chief Executive Officers and Directors-General both in the private and public sectors at large, how have they changed the lives of ordinary women?
Some have faced a barrage of attacks, they never had a fair hearing. They have fallen without any support. Those that are standing are, still standing because they have been able to stand for what they believe in. Some have been able to stand without trailblazers or support from the media.
Sadly, even women journalists are on the side of the media. Unfortunately, when you are on the side of the media, you are on the side of men because they control it.
Media is patriarchal and mostly owned by white, conservative men who have always seen themselves as the best thing that the world ever had.
This is the institution that has ensured that it destroys women. It is often used as a hammer of patriarchy to destroy every woman that dares raise her head without its permission.
This institution has historically been used its resources to destroy women. Even black and so called progressive men and institutions that are supposed to be independent and protect the rights of the vulnerable, use the story line and language of the media to take male-serving and masculinist decisions.
Even conservative men have used the media to boost their egos because they know that media is always on their side.
Some have chosen to keep quite. The media has been able to cushion some that drive a very destructive agenda. It is a fact that we have a few journalists in South Africa in the present era. Some have decided to be conduits of a destructive propaganda that had no mercy for a gallant fighter like the late Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. This is gravitating towards what Comrade Zenani and Zindzi Mandela said at the funeral of Mama Winnie. In words of Zenani, I quote:
“It has become clear that South Africa‚ and indeed the world‚ holds men and women to different standards of morality. Much of what my mother has been constantly asked to account for is simply ignored when it comes to her male counterparts. And this kind of double standard acts also to obscure the immense contribution of women to the fight for the emancipation of our country from the evil of Apartheid. I say ‘fight’ because the battle for our freedom was not some polite picnic at which you arrived armed with your best behaviour.”
The South African media is not concerned about facts. They have sustained themselves through the word “alleged”. They hang people on allegations to an extent that even the society starts taking the allegation as true. They repeat the story-line until you are persecuted and found guilty in the court of public opinion. I do not believe that this is the democracy that uMama Sisulu and uMama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
If you raise your honest views that challenges patriarchy in South Africa, you are vilified labelled or insulted. If you shout and make noise like some of us, they will label you mad and say that you are a liar, because patriarchy fears strong women with content and substance.
When you go to parliament and make representations on the Customary Land Rights Bill, they will say you are not from the rural areas, you are just a researcher, and therefore you have no inexperience to make comments on such matters. The classical case is that of Mom Kgoshikgadi Shilubana from Limpopo and Dr Zungu from KZN.
South Africa must change and belong to women too. There is no way we are going to deal with issues of race and fail to deal with the issues of gender. There is no way we are going to deal with issues of class and leave out the issues of gender.
Women have always been part of the struggle and therefore gender equality must be on top of the agenda for all South Africans. We must destroy the demons of patriarchy. The leadership must buy into the agenda of fighting violence against women and children. Leaders from all walks of life, from republicans to traditionalists must understand that women must be respected and protected.
We must not as women accept the things we do not understand. Whatever we have today has gaps that have never been closed or addressed. We have the CGE which is a chapter nine institution but there is a huge appetite to close it because there are many voices saying that it should fall under the Human Rights Commission. Yes we agree, that women’s rights are human rights, but we have never been asked as women about the advantages and disadvantages of closing the Gender Commission.
This is an independent structure that is outside government that has power to monitor, initiate legislation, and evaluate government progress, even intervene where there are differences between government and other sectors of society.
Patriarchy has institutionalised itself and has to be dealt with by a structure that will focus squarely on women and gender issues and that is the CGE.
The Human Rights Commission has a lot of work but also why demand more funds for the Office of the Public Protector and want to shut down the Gender Commission. Why is the Public Protector not taken back to the Justice Department or the Human Rights Commission?, why do we always find it easy to kill and frustrate women’s efforts?
We have a Women’s Ministry but we do not have a budget, how are we going to implement the agenda of women without a budget? Why do we have a Women’s Ministry and not a structure configured to intervene on women’s issues in all the departments and Gender Focal Points? How are we going to deal with the women’s issues if those dealing with women’s issues are junior and cannot take executive decisions? They can neither talk to the DG nor the Minister, why don’t we have a uniform structure in provinces and allow some provinces to have issues of women fall under Vulnerable Groups.
What is going on with gender issues in municipal and ward levels? Why are departments not accountable on what they have done to change the quality of lives of women? Why are we not decisive and consistent on taking decisions about the cases of abuse of women, domestic violence, rape and killings of women?
Why are we being forced to reverse our decisions because of lack of funds? Where is the structure coordinating Gender-Based Violence?
When we talk about decisive leadership we are talking about leadership that would buy into our agenda and not treat us like statistics. We need the leadership that will treat women with respect and dignity.
Fellow South Africans, the Department of Women plays a significant role in representing South Africa in gender structures and driving the gender agenda within international bodies. Key in this regard is the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, BRICS, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the African Union and SADC. The Department is also responsible for mainstreaming and coordinating the development and submission of Country Reports on the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Following our successful participation in the 62nd session of CSW in March this year, we will be working with other stakeholders to implement a plan of action to accelerate the empowerment of women and girls living in rural areas.
I am pleased to announce that South Africa was recently elected to serve as a member of CSW for the period 2019-2023. This provides important opportunities for us to advance the global agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Today we also join the United Nations in commemorating World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
The theme for this year focuses on the potential of Artificial Intelligence to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Honourable Speaker, it is now common knowledge that the world has entered the fourth industrial revolution. As we commemorate this day, the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, our task is to sharpen consistently the tools needed to ensure that our country women especially those living in rural areas are not left behind.
Honourable Chairperson, we remain committed to changing the gender disparity in our economy. Our private sector still lags behind in the acceleration of women into decision-making structures of our economy.
We are pleased that since January 2017, it is now mandatory for all entities listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to have a policy of promoting gender diversity at Board level, as well as to disclose their performance against this policy.
Yet despite this policy, women continue to face resistance from the patriarchal structures and cultures of the private sector.
We are also aware that our economy is highly racially divided. Therefore, as we increase the representation of women at Board level, we are reminded to ensure that African women in particular are prioritised.
We are also gravely concerned about hate crimes perpetrated against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer community.
We therefore welcome the commitment by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to review the Criminal Procedure Act with the intention to “abolish the prescribed period of 20 years” for sexual offences, hate crimes, femicide and all forms of gender-based violence.
The boy child does not understand the importance and support that is poured on the girl-child. He does not understand why the girl-child should be supported. The girl-child is not safe at her school, at an institution of higher-learning, church and work-place, in business, in government, and the judiciary.
We recognize and applaud the work of progressive organisations such as SONKE Gender Justice, Boys to Men, Not in My Name, Afriman, the South African National Religious Leaders’ Association, The Takuwani Riime Campaign, SANAC and the men’s sector at large. We value these partnerships.
The commitment by the men’s sector to end patriarchy is proof that men have an important role to play in ending gendered inequalities.
We also pay special recognition to Karabo Mokoena’s uncle, Malume Tshepo Mokoena and his leadership of the Moving Ahead Development Agency. Mr Mokoena’s quest to seek justice for the murder of his niece sets a responsibility for other men to lead the fight to end gendered violence.
The Department of Women welcomes the push for economic recovery and the drive for new investment announced by President Ramaphosa. Inclusive economic growth that ignites all our economic sectors and produces decent jobs and tackle the high unemployment rate especially among youth and women in particular is urgent and critical. When unemployment is high and the labour market fails to absorb young people into jobs, it is mainly women that carry the burden of care and support for unemployed family members. We look forward to the positive outcomes of this investment drive.
We demand that the success of this drive is not only measured in the billions of rands it attracts, but must be measured also in the direct opportunities for growth, economic participation of women as well as the improvement of their quality of life.
We must begin to measure our success not only in economic terms and indicators but also in social and human indicators. We all know that unpaid women’s work is not included in the calculation of the GDP and other economic indicators.
Fellow South Africans, as part of economic recovery and the drive for new investment, we are aware that opportunities that will be created need men and women with education and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM in short.
Government, the private sector and civil society, together with UNESCO are committed to the #1MillionGirlsInSTEM. The objective is to increase the number of girls entering the engineering and technology industry in 10 different geographies in the next 10 years.
A gender benchmarking study conducted by Women in Global Science and Technology (WISAT) found that while women had more opportunities available to them than ever before, the levels of female representation in the science, technology and innovation (STI) fields in South Africa remains disappointingly low as compared to other developing countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, our country needs a leadership in the political, economic and social spheres in all our government and private sector agencies and establishments that place emphasis and great importance on the Women’s Agenda.
The primary mandate of the Department of Women is to lead and coordinate the country’s transformation agenda on women’s political and socio-economic empowerment.This is aimed at the full realisation of women’s rights and gender equality. Our strategic areas of focus include:
Driving gender-responsive policy, planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation;
Mainstreaming the socio-economic empowerment of women; and
Building partnerships with key stakeholders, raising awareness, and conducting outreach programmes in advancing the struggle for gender equality.
The mandate of the Department demands that we drive the important Women’s Agenda in South Africa within government, the private sector and all other sectors in our society. Our most urgent challenge is the resourcing and budget of the Department in the context of the many serious and urgent challenges facing women. We are underfunded and under-capacitated.
Honourable Members, the Department received a budget of Two Hundred and Thirty Million Rand in the current financial year. Of this amount, Eighty Point Seven Million Rand (R80.7) goes directly to the Commission for Gender Equality. This by all standards falls far beyond what the country needs for it to address the women issues.
Allow me to outline some of the key challenges facing women in South Africa. Patriarchal attitudes, social norms and harmful practices are at the very top of the multiple challenges facing women. Gender based violence, meaningful participation of women in decision making in the economy and land rights for women living in rural areas.
The patriarchal attitudes in our society continue to be amongst our biggest challenges. Sustained sexual harassment, gender bias, and stereotypes hinder women’s progress. These challenges are exacerbated by unequal power relations between men and women and lack of economic power for women.
In 2017, the Global Peace Index identified South Africa as possessing the highest rates of violence in the world. Our country is also the site of the highest rape statistics. The South African Police Service indicated that an average of one hundred (100) rape cases were reported each day in the 2016/2017 reporting period. This is just a tip of the iceberg as most cases go unreported.
Fellow South Africans, one of the challenges to fighting the scourge of violence continues to be silence from victims, perpetrators and their families and communities. I encourage all women to stand up and speak up against violence.
We applaud the media for their increasing efforts to publicise and expose cases of gender-based violence. The media, like other sectors of society such as schools and religious institutions, has a key role to play in ending patriarchy.
Our government and the judiciary have taken great strides in addressing challenges faced by women living in rural areas. Despite this rural areas remain the persistent sites of underdevelopment, poverty, precarious land tenure systems, and patriarchal power relations linked to customary law and traditions.
For women living in rural areas in South Africa and in many developing countries, access to land and secure land tenure remain a source of security against poverty.
We therefore applaud the September 2017 decision of the Pretoria High Court to protect the land rights of Mantshabelle Mary Rahube, a (68) sixty-eight-year-old woman who was facing eviction by a male relative from the family home in which she has lived for more than thirty-seven years. We support Mary Rahube who is today taking her matter to the Constitutional Court.
The Department of Women also welcomes the resolution of the ruling party, during its 54th national conference that calls for land expropriation without compensation.
Our strategic location in the Presidency gives us a unique opportunity to champion government-wide delivery of women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Last year, we committed to develop a framework for the provision of free sanitary products to indigent girls and women.
We are pleased to inform this august house that we have finalised the Sanitary Dignity Framework and we will pilot this flagship programme in three provinces, namely Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The pilot phase will target girls attending quintiles 1-3 schools. Through this flagship programme, we want to restore the dignity of girls from poor households by ensuring that nothing hinder their journey to success, especially not their monthly menstruation.
We intend to use Government’s investment in the sanitary dignity programme to stimulate local economic development by empowering women to play a key role in the entire value chain process. We want women not just to be recipients of sanitary dignity pads, but to be the manufacturers and distributors. This is part of our contribution to the radical socioeconomic transformation and employment creation.
On a related matter, I would like to inform Honourable Members that on 28-29 of this month, the Department and UNFPA will be hosting the inaugural menstrual health management symposium in Gauteng Province. The symposium, the first in the region, provides a platform to learn about new emerging practice and evidence on menstrual health management. Menstrual health is a human rights issue critical to the empowerment of women and girls in South Africa.
A key imperative of the Department in the current financial year is to develop a gender responsive planning and budgeting framework across all spheres of government, with gender mainstreaming at its core. To this end, we will continue our advocacy work with the National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to ensure that every government department and every state entity mainstreams gender within their planning, monitoring and budgeting systems. The aim is to ensure that government budget allocations at all spheres contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The department will focus on intensifying campaigns for gender equality and against gender based violence through the national dialogues over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. These forms part of the 365 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. To date, we have conducted dialogues in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West and Eastern Cape. We will conduct dialogues in the remaining provinces in the current financial year to ensure that our interventions and programmes to prevent and eliminate gender based violence are evidence-based and also informed by the lived experiences of women on the ground.
The Department has established a dedicated Young Women’s directorate. This will enable Women to pass the baton to Women who had access to Education for Excellence which enables them to choose careers that they want not depending on their gender. The Youth Excellence Service has been a good vehicle for Young Women to be part of the country’s development agenda for the Youth. Thus, the department will develop a Young Women’s Framework this financial year with clear indicators for the socio-economic empowerment of Young Women.
Honourable Members, the Department’s programmes are also structured to respond to various regional and international commitments that South Africa has endorsed. Chief amongst these, is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in which we pledged not to leave anyone behind.
As part of this budget vote, we have convened a stakeholder CSW feedback session with civil society organisations across the country. This will culminate in the development of South Africa’s Platform of Action to take forward the key resolutions and agreed conclusions. The department will continue to forge sustainable partnerships with key players in the struggle for women’s emancipation.
We will use our membership of the CSW to continue our country’s longstanding acts of support for gender equality across the globe. We remain committed to intensifying our efforts to ensure that all women and girls across the globe have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams without fear. To this end, we will continue to fight for the elimination of harmful practices that allow young girls to be married to men old enough to be their grandparents.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will continue to express our unwavering solidarity with our sisters and the people of Palestine who continue to suffer at the hands of the barbaric brutality of the Israel apartheid regime, which for decades continued to wantonly violate international law and the human rights of Palestinians without any repercussions.
Now more than ever before, we must ensure that the Palestinian people receive support and encouragement during this time of their national grief.
I thank you.