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Published: 08 Aug 2008
|SA: Mlambo-Ngcuka: Women's day celebration dinner and Anti-Poverty Strategy (08/08/2008)|
Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Mlambo-Ngcuka: Women's day celebration dinner and Anti-Poverty Strategy
Address by H.E Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the gala dinner in celebration of women's day
Honourable National Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Premier of the North West, Ms Edna Molewa
Mayors, MECs and local councillors
Veterans of the 1956 Women's march and others senior citizens
The North West Black Management Forum
Our traditional and religious leaders
Women of South Africa and
Ladies and gentlemen.
Madume bagaetsho! Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi! I am delighted to join you a day before women and mothers in South Africa celebrate Women's day.
It is a day when women, daughters and grandmothers are joined by men and boy children to commemorate a historic day and an event that is central to our struggle for human rights and the principles of non racialism and non sexism.
I would like to acknowledge the organisers of this gala dinner and to express my appreciation to the participants who mesmerised us in the cultural programmes for today. I thank everyone who made possible this coming together in the beautiful province of North West.
Purpose of event
We have gathered here today during Women's month to say with one voice as public representatives, traditional and church leaders, business leaders, the youth, women's organisations that we all embrace the theme of Business Unusual All Power to Women.
We embrace gender and women's rights because as uTata uMandela said at our country's opening of the first democratically elected parliament on 24 May 1994, "Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression".
We collectively say we support efforts to empower and elevate women because we know what women can achieve as caregivers and nurturers in their families and communities. They are indeed frontline combatants in the war against injustice and violation of basic rights.
My message today is straightforward: if women are to totally liberate themselves from patriarchy and dependence, then the only path available is through a combination of educational improvement and in investing in economic opportunities.
As government we lend our weight behind women interventions to fight poverty and unemployment because we remember what women can achieve if they act together as the heroines of 9 August 1956 did.
On this day and throughout the month of August we reaffirm the sheer power of the twenty thousand women who marched to Tshwane working in unison to bring about change we can believe in.
We remember that it is the 50th anniversary of the Zeerust anti-pass campaign, a campaign in which large numbers of women burned the symbol of their oppression the pass book.
We remember the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Bantu Women's League, a forerunner of the ANC Women's League, which was a seminal moment in the course of the struggle to end exploitation of African women and men.
We remember the visionary and brave mother of the liberation struggle, uMama uCharlotte Manye Maxeke.
Context of Women's day
Yes, we admit that there has been progress and we have achieved tangible milestones in advancing the legal and material rights that belong to all citizens of South Africa.
At the same time, we recognise that challenges remain. We still have to confront persisting incidents of gender discrimination in public and at workplaces and face up to women and child abuse at home, we concede that our people have to deal with pressing present challenges of soaring foodstuffs, high fuel costs and worsening poverty.
All of us are all too aware of the continuing challenge of school dropouts among our youth, teenage pregnancy, and unemployment among able bodied youth which contributes to the poverty cycle.
We are aware of the burdens of limited economic opportunities among rural women and difficulties the majority of our grassroots people have to live through due to illiteracy and not having information on how to sustain and grow their small business.
However, we know what must be done so that a better life for all is shared amongst our people, especially the poorest of the poor, to whom life seems hopeless, to the pupils who have dropped out of grade 12, the roaming youths who simply need a word of advice on how they can break the cycle of poverty and uplift their families.
We all know what to do as mothers, daughters and wives. Doing it together we are stronger but doing it individually we are weaker.
Kgetsi ya tsie e kgonwa ke go tswharaganelwa! We can only succeed if we work together.
As I said before, we need and invite men and boy children to join us in this campaign of fighting hunger and malnutrition at home and in school.
What can families do?
I strongly believe society and South Africa at large still needs the hands, eyes, ears, and voices of women to be a country we can all be proud of.
If we are going to conquer poverty and unemployment, women have to be at the forefront as commanders in chief in their families. If women stand steadfast in this battle to winning the war on poverty, we would have secured the future for our children and thus defeating inter generational poverty among poor households.
Reversing chronic poverty and its negative consequences is not a task and responsibility of government alone. To win this war, as government we need the inputs of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith based organisations, community-based organisations (CBOs) and youth movements so that we produce sustainable results that benefit the numerous poor families.
I am convinced that the family unit is the key to unlocking the potential of passing on to the next generation of our children a better life where they can realise and live their dreams.
This collective action plan that involves families and communal organisation, working with all spheres of government is what we have in mind when we talk about the Anti-Poverty Strategy (APS) and the establishment of a war room which will be officially launched next week on 14 August.
What does the Anti-Poverty Strategy entail in the background of what has been done before and is being achieved by this government in this third decade of our democracy?
What are government action plans?
This Anti-Poverty Strategy campaign that was endorsed by cabinet is part of the Apex priorities announced by President Mbeki in this year's State of the Nation Address (SONA).
It seeks to build on work that is already underway in eradicating poverty by upscaling and raising the profile of the programmes of government so that more and more people benefit.
We plan to do this through a targeted household visit and through community profiling throughout the nine provinces. In simple terms, it means our fieldworkers will visit poor households to assess which government services individuals within households are eligible for but are not receiving and thereafter communicate this information to the relevant implementing agents to make follow ups.
I am glad that the local councillors are amongst us as they will play a central role in making sure there is direct implementation of the needs of our people. I urge everyone gathered here to challenge their local councillors if they are not being efficient and if they do not attend to your needs.
It is their basic duty to listen to you! This is what we mean by Batho Pele!
The situational analysis I am referring to that is part of the APS means we will be able to look at a family and do an income transfer of this family to check who in this family stands the best chance of being educated so that they become the turnaround strategist of that family.
If in that community there are people without an Identity Document (ID) and are therefore not able to access their social grant, we will send a mobile truck to go and assist people access their identity documents (IDs).
As you will agree with me, we believe as government that addressing poverty is not something we can do for people but is something we have to do together with those who are affected.
I need to emphasise that these programmes will, as they rightly should, be founded on women based turnaround strategies since women bear the brunt of poverty, women are the major participants in the second economy that covers sectors like trade catering accommodation, and most importantly, poverty in many households has a feminine face.
That is why I refer to women as frontline combatants in the war on poverty since we believe that it is simply unacceptable for young teenage mothers to rely on child grants when they should be breadwinners in their families and to being role models to other girl children.
The fact of the matter is that poverty and unemployment robs a person of dignity, it strips away at what makes you a complete human being and being a man who diligently provides for and supports his family. I personally feel sympathetic to those men who are unable and cannot provide for their loved ones.
As women it is our primary role to lend them a shoulder knowing that they will be able to rise up and make something better out of their lives.
As I always say, mo gonang le tshotlego, ga gona kgololesego - "where there is poverty, there is no freedom".
Anti poverty strategy
South Africa has different levels of deprivation and has an increasing dependency on social grants. This is understandable in the present climate of high food costs and in situations where most households and families have to do a trade-off between budgeting for food and transport money to go to work.
The Anti-Poverty Strategy is an integrated strategy that is multi dimensional since it recognises that poverty is multi-pronged as well; it is for this reason government in concert with its social partners aims to address food and income security through income generation activities and by providing safety nets for the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly and disabled, and those in rural areas.
Government is therefore committed to counter the escalating food and living costs through access to social wage and through housing subsidies, free basic healthcare for children and to make certain that free basic services are available as part of the war room.
Furthermore, this will involve
* increasing the number of women in small to medium scale construction, that is the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
* Training as early childhood practitioners and community based care workers.
* working with our social partners to promote the economic empowerment of women through access to finance and fast-tracking of skills development at all levels, and
* Encouraging women through Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) to improve their management, numeracy and literacy skills in the second economy programmes.
For example, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has a target of creating one million jobs in five years, we remain on target and have in fact surpassed our employment creation targets with more than 301,000 work opportunities created.
I learn with satisfaction that on average, 52% of the EPWP beneficiaries are women. This is in line with the EPWP aims of creating additional work opportunities for at least 40% women, 30% youth and 2% disabled between 2004 and 2009.
I remain optimistic that we can achieve, and are realising, all these initiatives. South Africa is a winning nation and the resolve of its people remain strong and steadfast.
I can assure you that we will turn around the corner and by so doing empower our households with a better life. Government in all spheres has the political will and is still devoted to its broad societal commitment that we received by a majority from the electorate in 2004.
Our mandate on poverty eradication and employment creation is still focused on,
* Increasing the participation rates of women and the youth who are in the 15 to 34 age group bracket, by skilling and increasing their employability status.
* Eliminate wage disparity between men and women.
* Promote equal remuneration for work of equal value.
* Increase the hiring of women with disabilities, empower women in rural areas, and
* Ensure that there is an effective 'know your rights campaign'.
Halala makhosikazi, halala!
Ke a leboga bagaetsho. Pula!
Issued by: The Presidency
8 August 2008