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‘More must be done to empower women”

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“The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is part of our efforts to eradicate poverty and stimulate sustainable development."

Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul.

THE EMANCIPATION and empowerment of women was highlighted during the provincial Women’s Day celebrations that took place in Mothibistad, Kuruman, on Friday.

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, said that although strides have been made in the inclusion of women in the government and private sector, much still needs to be done.

Saul pointed out that while his executive comprises of more women than men, there is, however, still room for improvement in local municipalities.

“In our Province, we can measure negatives and positives, where our provincial executive is made up of more female MECs than men. In the provincial administration, however, out of the 242 senior manager positions, only 85 are occupied by females.

“In our municipalities the situation is way below expectation, with only three female municipal managers, eight female chief financial officers and 11 women in senior management positions across the 31 municipalities,” said Saul.

“We want to appeal to the MEC for Coghsta (Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs) to focus on correcting this anomaly as a matter of extreme urgency. We need to improve women’s representation in the public sector, and this goal should be part of the performance management agreements between the premier and MECs.”

Saul added that the empowerment of women is not only an issue for government, but also a societal matter.

“The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is part of 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.

“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.

“We must work smarter and faster to ensure that we drastically improve the lives of women, especially marginalised 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.”

Saul urged women to take the reins in business opportunities and empower themselves.

“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% of 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. Of that 31% was spent on more than 850 black women-owned companies based in the Northern Cape.”

Saul said that his executive is working on ways to improve the social challenges faced by women in the Province.

“We fully support the #WhatWomenWant campaign. Work has started to ensure that we 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’s 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.”

Saul also condemned violence against women and urged all sectors of socity to play an active role in the eradication of women and child abuse. “It is therefore very disheartening that we had to learn of the rape of a five-year-old girl here in Mothibistad. 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 the provincial government to assist them in ensuring that the justice system is sped up to finalise all cases of violence against women and children.”

Saul added that it is the responsibility of all to create a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country in which all people live in peace and safety and with equal opportunities.