South Africa must recommit to moving women forward

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Johannesburg, Monday 8 August 2016 – South Africans will tomorrow Tuesday 9 August 2016 commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March.

History records this as one of the defining moments in South Africa’s struggle for liberation since women who had historically been the victims of their gender, their race and their class stood up to protest against the dehumanising pass laws.

On this occasion, which will forever be etched in the history of South Africa’s journey towards democracy, 20 000 women from across the country defied the triple oppression they endured to march to the Union Buildings, to call for an equitable society characterised by, amongst others, freedom of movement.

Since South Africa attained its freedom and democracy in 1994, women have made strides in taking their rightful places in society.  The democratic government has from 1994, put the agenda of women and children, at the centre of its developmental programmes.

Most importantly, South Africa’s commitment to building a non-sexist society in which women have the right to be treated equally and access opportunities, is enshrined in South Africa’s highest law – the Constitution.  Indeed, the Constitution commits all sectors of society to work towards achieving equality between women and men by eliminating racial, gender and all other forms of discrimination.

The Constitution also emphasises that measures must be taken to promote the achievement of equality in all spheres of society. The right to fair employment, basic education, and civic participation are now constitutional rights while further opportunities for employment, education, and training must be made available to women and girl children.

Brand South Africa’s CEO, Mr Kingsley Makhubela said: “As we commemorate National Women’s Month in August and Women’s Day on 9 August 2016, let us remember the brave women who strengthened South Africa’s fight for liberation and a society based on equality, non-sexism and non-racism.  Their strength and perseverance has been pivotal to the mainstreaming of gender issues in contemporary South Africa.”

“Today our guiding framework to build an equitable country, the National Development Plan makes firm recommendations that the transformation of the economy should involve active participation and empowerment of women, and that the role of women as leaders in all sectors of society should be actively supported.”

“It is time that all South Africans and all sectors of society come together to bring this vision of an equitable society to life.  It is time that women are empowered to transcend the barriers imposed by their gender, race and class.  South Africa’s growth and development depends on each of us and we will never achieve the fullest extent of our national potential if more than 50% of our population remains marginalised.  We must all play our part,” concluded Mr Makhubela.