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SA: Cyril Ramaphosa: Address by South Africa's President, at the International Women's Forum South Africa Hall of Femme Awards 2023, Standard Bank Offices, Rosebank (19/10/2023)


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SA: Cyril Ramaphosa: Address by South Africa's President, at the International Women's Forum South Africa Hall of Femme Awards 2023, Standard Bank Offices, Rosebank (19/10/2023)

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

20th October 2023


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Programme Directors, Ms Basetsana Kumalo and Ms Charmaine Houvet,
Founder and Patron of the International Women’s Forum South Africa Chapter, Ms Zanele Mbeki,
IWF-SA President Ms Irene Charnley,
IWF-SA Deputy President, Ms Nolitha Fakude,
Chairperson of the Standard Bank Group, Ms Nonkululeko Nyembezi, I
WF-SA board members and members,
Distinguished Honourees,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address this wonderful celebration of trailblazing women who are making an indelible mark in society.

Your works are shattering barriers and inspiring others with your determination, compassion and visionary leadership in various facets of life.

We are gathered here tonight to celebrate, honour and pay tribute to three remarkable women who have devoted their lives and their careers to uplifting and empowering others.

You have each set a great example for women’s leadership on the African continent. Gender equality is a constitutionally enshrined principle, a fundamental human right and an economic imperative.

We can only achieve sustainable and inclusive growth in South Africa and in Africa when women are socially, politically and economically empowered.

The International Women’s Forum South Africa has a proud tradition of honouring, acknowledging and celebrating women who have made a meaningful difference to our nation, our continent and the wider world.

As the IWF-SA you call us to action, remind us of our shortcomings and hold us accountable for advancing women’s empowerment whether as legislators, policymakers, corporations or as employees.

You stand up for women, not just as a representative organisation and a voice for change, but as active agents for upliftment and empowerment.

Despite important advances we are still some way off from achieving true gender equality.

We continue to grapple with the feminisation of poverty, the impact of HIV and AIDS on women, gender-based violence, high unemployment rates amongst women, teenage pregnancy, and others.

The leaders we are honouring this evening have worked to change our country and continent for the better. Their works demonstrate that we can only have a fairer, more equal and more peaceful world when there is gender equality.

The theme – Pay It Forward – is at the heart of this evening’s celebrations.

We come from a past that ignored women’s important role in society.

The historic Women’s March of 1956 was the culmination of a campaign to force an illegitimate regime to recognise that women’s rights are human rights.

Today, under democracy, women are paying it forward so all our children can live in a world where opportunities are equally available and accessible to them.

Allow me to begin by acknowledging the outstanding work of our first honouree, Ms Winnie Byanyima, who is an aeronautical engineer, politician, human rights activist, feminist and diplomat.

She is the director of UNAIDS and was previously an executive director at Oxfam.

For over 30 years, Ms Byanyima has fought for equality and justice in her home country Uganda and around the world. She is a globally recognised leader on women’s rights, democratic governance and peace-building.

Today, she highlights how we need to continue to fight to end AIDS.

Our second honouree tonight is a familiar name to South Africans, Dr Brigalia Bam.

Dr Bam is the former chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission.

Many people retire from this rigorous role to take it easy. That is not the case with Dr Bam who is intent on paying it forward wherever and whenever she can.

For her efforts to build a better country and for her distinguished contribution to the empowerment of women and to building democracy in South Africa, she has been awarded the Order of the Baobab in Silver.

Our third honouree tonight is also a name many South Africans are familiar with.

Advocate Mojanku Gumbi served as a special advisor to former President Thabo Mbeki and is currently the UN Special Advisor for Addressing Racism in the Workplace.

Advocate Gumbi has been involved in peace making initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Sudan, Lesotho, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Iran and the Middle East.

She has advised on domestic policy issues including reform of the healthcare industry, the expansion of South African industries to the rest of Africa and the world, as well as on banking and mining sector reforms.

These leaders continue to inspire other women and young girls to achieve their goals and change the world for the better.

We extend our gratitude to each of you for your contributions and congratulate you on the prestigious honour being bestowed on you this evening.

We call on other organisations to emulate the ethos of the International Women’s Forum, which is firmly rooted in the belief that empowering visionary women and fostering a culture of mentorship encourages support to women from all walks of life.

This support emboldens women to challenge conventional norms, redefine leadership and carve paths to success.

Through initiatives like the FASSET Women’s Legacy Programme, the organisation promotes an environment that moulds, educates and mentors the next generation of ethical women leaders.

A partnership with the Financial and Accounting SETA and Duke Corporate Education, this programme will have mentored and developed 1,000 women in the financial sector alone by 2025.

Paying it forward, those one thousand will become ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and in time, one million and more.

They will be a rising brigade of young professional women of great skill, acumen and ambition, empowered to be whatever they want to be.

It has been my privilege over the years to work closely with members of the IWF-SA and other organisations in the quest to build a more equitable society, where women will no longer encounter barriers to their personal growth and progress.

We salute your efforts to galvanise your membership base to foster alliances, to promote mentorship and to champion exemplary ethical women’s leadership at the global level.

Thank you to the IWF, to IWF-SA and to the Standard Bank Group for making this event possible, and for supporting our distinguished honourees.

May you continue to be an influential voice for gender equality, leading the charge towards a more equal and just world.

I thank you.



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