Despite advances made by the government, millions of women still live in poverty, facing discrimination and violence, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Women’s Day.
“As we mark Women’s Day this year, SA is in the grip of two pandemics: coronavirus and the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide,” he said on Sunday.
“It cannot be that this Women’s Day is drenched in the tears of families who have lost their sisters, daughters and mothers to violence perpetrated by SA men. This cannot continue.
“We can no longer as a nation ignore the deafening cries of women and children, for protection, for help and for justice,” he said.
He said despite many challenges faced by women, the country had made progress in uplifting women, including advancing their rights, broadening their access to education, and improving their participation in the economy and decision-making.
“At the same time, we know that the lived reality for millions of women is very different to the promise that is contained in our constitution. Millions still live in conditions of poverty and unemployment. They face discrimination and violence all the time.”
To give effect to its commitment to the upliftment of equality, he said SA had joined Generation Equality, a global campaign to achieve gender equality by 2030.
“As part of this campaign, we are part of two action coalitions, one on economic justice and rights and the other on gender-based violence and femicide.
“We have taken concrete actions to provide support and care to survivors of gender-based violence.
“We’ve improved the capacity of our police to deal with the crimes of gender-based violence. We’ve made progress in reforming our laws to give greater protection to survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” the president said.
The government, he said, had a strategic plan to promote women’s economic inclusion.
One of the ways to reduce the vulnerability of women was to enable them to be financially independent, he added.
“We have a unique opportunity to refashion our society and the lives of the women in our country.
“We commit to a new social compact, informed by our commitment to gender equality.”
The government will set aside up to 40% of public procurement for women-owned businesses.
“We now expect national departments to monitor and report on how many women participated in each public procurement process. They have to have clear plans on how to broaden women participation,” said Ramaphosa.
The government will also “speed up” the process of giving women access to productive assets such as land.
“We will ensure our land reform process favours all historically disadvantaged people including women in getting land and the means to farm it.
Of the R75m in Covid-19 relief earmarked for farming, 50% of the beneficiaries will be rural women.
“We must ensure women farmers continue to receive support beyond the lockdown.”