Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, at the celebration of Women’s Day Thabo Moorosi Multipurpose Centre, Mothibistad

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Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
The Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation
Members of the National Assembly and the NCOP
Mayors and Councillors
Our honoured Traditional leaders
Leaders of political parties ANC, ANCWL - Johlene May Ntwane
Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions, Commission on Gender Equality - Mr Nosi
LGBTI leadership
Government officials and Major General Athole
Religious la
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to be in this district of giants, John Taolo Gaetsewe District to pay tribute to the many remarkable women of our nation. The District is named after John Taolo Gaetsewe, an outstanding revolutionary from the village of Maruping here in Ga-Segonyana. He was a dedicated trade unionist who played an important role in building the trade union movement and served as the General Secretary of SACTU.

Noteworthy is the fact that he never sought comforts, but dedicated his life to advance the struggle against apartheid. He understood the interrelatedness of class, race and gender in the struggle for the total emancipation of our people. He knew that our country cannot claim to be free until all our women are free and enjoy equal opportunities in all spheres of life.

At a mass rally to inaugurate the SACTU “one pound a day” campaign of the 1950’s, he stated that it was not only black workers who earned starvation wages, but that many white women workers were also grossly underpaid, and he stressed, as he always did, the need for the unity and collective strength of all workers. It was his belief that unity between male and female workers was the only way forward.

This region also produced Joe Morolong who alongside, Mandela, Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others were charged with High Treason in 1956 by the apartheid regime after the historic adoption of the freedom charter.

We salute Ester Chipanga Molete, Joyce Friedman, Maria Ndiniza, Thembeka Meyidi, Monica Masilabele, Karina Koikoi, Lerato Mosikatsi, Kgomotsego Boijang, Vivian Gaetsietse, Monica Moseki and Nomsa Nonkhathi Mvulane and many other revolutionary women from this district and our province.

We pay tribute to these women activists who through their actions changed the cause of history. We will also be forever grateful to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the apartheid and extension of Pass Laws. These women were led by Lillian Ngoyi, Sophia De Bruin, Helen Josephs and Rahima Moosa.

All these women that made sacrifices inspired others to take their rightful place in the development agenda of the country. It was on 9 August, sixty three years ago that the women of South Africa, from all walks of life and from diverse backgrounds stood firm and challenged an unjust system with conviction that victory is certain, that good shall prevail over the evil system of Apartheid.

This year we celebrate 25 years of freedom and democracy. This is a milestone which calls on us as citizens of this country to reflect on the strides we have made in ensuring a society that is free from gender discrimination and inequality.

We commemorate this year’s Women’s Day under the theme: “25 Years of Democracy: Growing South Africa Together for Women’s Emancipation". Furthermore, this Women’s Month takes place alongside the 65th anniversary of the Founding Conference of the Federation of South African Women which adopted the 1954 Women’s Charter. The Women’s Charter was adopted a year before the historic Freedom Charter of 1955.

Twenty five years into democracy we can rightly state, that South Africa is indeed a much better place to live in; however more still needs to be done. We must work smarter and faster to ensure that we drastically improve the lives of women especially marginalized and poor women, who are in the majority. This year is therefore a very important year for a faster realisation of gender equality and the empowerment of women and the girl child, including women with disabilities.

As this Executive of the Sixth Administration, we articulated a vision of building a Modern, Growing and Successful Province. Key to achieving this vision would be to advance the agenda of a capable developmental state that will advance the lives of the working class and the poor of our Province. We will therefore invest in skills development and create opportunities for our youth and women. The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is part our efforts to eradicate poverty and stimulate sustainable development. It should however be noted that the empowerment of women is everyone’s business and needs the support of government, business, labour and civil society alike.

Since 1994 we have progressively increased access to education, initiated bursaries and training programmes for young women and allocated funds for women entrepreneurs. We have incrementally improved access for women and girls’ to basic and higher education, which includes financial support for tertiary education. The enrolment for this academic year for primary and secondary schools  in the Northern Cape stands at three hundred and three thousand, one hundred and forty seven (303 147), of these learners one hundred and forty nine thousand, four hundred and eighteen (149 418) are girls.

The most vulnerable in our society have been supported by our social assistance programme through mechanisms such as the child support grant. Other important anti-poverty measures include free public health services to pregnant women and children under the age of six years.

Today, more women than ever occupy positions of authority and leadership in the public and private sector, in careers that were previously only reserved for men. More can and will be done to improve on these achievements thus far.

In our province we can measure negatives and positives where our Provincial Executive is made up of more female MEC’s than men, in the Provincial Administration however out of the two hundred and forty two (242) Senior Manager positions; eighty five (85) are occupied by females, comprising the following:
Directors (level 13) = 59
Chief Directors (level 14) = 21
Deputy Director General (level 15) = 5

In our Municipalities the situation is way below expectation with only three female Municipal Managers, eight female CFO’s and eleven women at senior management positions across the thirty one municipalities. We want to appeal to the MEC for COGHSTA to focus on correcting this anomaly as a matter of extreme urgency.

We need to improve women representation in the public sector, and this goal should be part of the Performance Management Agreements between the Premier and MECs.

Key to the empowerment of women is expropriation of land without compensation, this will end asset poverty. The fact that 7% of the white population in the province owns 83% of the land and 93% blacks own less than 15% of the land in the province is a socio-economic disfigurement that requires urgent action by the government. Women must also play a central role in the establishment of the State Construction Company and the Northern Cape Mining Company.

The full participation of women in our economy is essential to achieve our shared and inclusive growth. If we were to consider economic empowerment in our Province in the form of entrepreneurship, then we would note that in the last financial year a total of R 1, 6 billion was spent on Northern Cape based businesses.  From the R 1, 6 billion, an amount of R 493 225 (four hundred and ninety three million two hundred and twenty five thousand) was spent on more than 850 black women-owned companies based in the Northern Cape, which represents 31% of the provincial public procurement spent.

This indicates that procurement opportunities in the province are not equally spread. The top seven commodities supplied by women owned companies are:

  • Construction services (maintenance, repair and upgrades): 39% - R 194 million
  • Accommodation: 7% - R 35 million
  • Catering activities:  3% - R 17 million
  • Promotion and events: 3% - R 13 million
  • Nutrition services communities: R 9, 7 million
  • Security:  2% - R 8 million
  • Transport of learners: 2% - R 7, 5 million

We need to do more to ensure the full participation of women in the economy and leadership positions. We remain committed to ensure that women enjoy equal access to opportunities.

An important attribute of a Modern, Growing and Successful Province is the safety and security of our people. We need to create a province where our people; especially women and children, can freely enjoy their streets, without fear of being molested, harassed or abused.

It is therefore very disheartening that we had to learn of the rape of a five year old girl here in Mothibistad earlier this week. The alleged rapist, a 28 year old male is currently in custody. Towards the end of last month, we were approached by parents, friends and family members of victims of violence requesting that Provincial Government assists them to ensure that the justice system is sped-up to finalise all those cases.

The protection of life and limb is not only the responsibility of the police and we wish to call on all men and women, LGBTQI sector, NGOs, business, communities, one and all, to work with government to put an end to all forms of violence against women and children, especially the devastating scourge of femicide and rape.

Ladies and gentlemen, Gender Based Violence has the potential to destroy our societies. Violence targeted at the LGBTQI sector in the form of corrective rapes has no room in our society. We must therefore all strive to change negative social norms and gender stereotypes must be challenged at all times. We once more call on everyone in society, especially those who have the ability to bring about behavioural change to do so and to lend your voice and resources to advance the rights of women and girls everywhere. We call on all men to respect the dignity of women and children. We will continue to engage with civil society organisations and community based initiatives to improve the response to gender-based violence.

As the Provincial Government, we have identified health and education as our apex programmes. We will continue to cut costs on executive luxuries and frills to increase our investments on education and health. This will ensure access to quality education and health care that includes sexual and reproductive health. We will ensure gender-responsive planning and budgeting.

In growing a Modern, Growing and Successful Province we need to seriously capacitate women and young people to participate meaningfully in the mainstream of the economy. It cannot be that the only source of income for young girls and women are Social Grants. This mentality is counterproductive to development and progress.

As part of creating a modern Province, we once again commit that this Sixth Administration will work towards greater digital and economic inclusion of women. I would like to reiterate that let us make use of the opportunities that are provided, in order to achieve inclusive growth and prosperity.

We fully support the #What Women Want campaign. Work has started to ensure that complete the Provincial Gender Action Plan. In order to strengthen and encourage support to female entrepreneurs, we will as a matter of urgency review the mandate of the Mme Re Ka Thusa Trust to become a fully-fledged Schedule 3 Public Entity to focus on women economic empowerment and skills development. This will improve accountability and reporting.

The development of the Provincial Sanitary Dignity Towel Policy Framework needs to be fast-tracked. This needs to be done in an effort to ensure that we advance reproductive health care and restore the dignity of poor women and girl children.

Currently the distribution of Sanitary Dignity towels happen on an adhoc basis and is uncoordinated in the Province, the Office of the Premier is facilitating the establishment of the Provincial task team to foster better coordination. We will ensure that women are the ones to benefit economically in the production, manufacturing, storage and distribution of sanitary towels.

The Provincial Gender Based Violence Strategy will be finalised and we will review and strengthen the provincial gender machinery. Awareness will be created around campaigns such as the Thursdays in Black and we call on all sectors of society to support these campaigns.

We must continue to work together to create a non-racial,non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country in which all our people live in peace, safety and with equal opportunities. It is only through women’s full an equal participation in all areas of public and private life that we can achieve a sustainable, peaceful and a just society as enshrined in our Constitution.  

Let us in this twenty fifth year of democracy recommit ourselves to the ideal of our first democratic President, the late Tata Mandela, when he stated that, “Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”.

We call on all to work with Government as we envision to build a Modern, Growing and Successful Northern Cape.

I thank you

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