Remarks by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in The Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities during the occasion of the launch of the 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children Nasrec Showgrounds, Johannesburg Expo Centre
Programme Director, Advocate Mikateko Maluleke,
Most importantly, I greet the women of South Africa,
It is an honor to officially launch the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign at the NASREC Showgrounds, in the Johannesburg Expo Centre.
This year’s national theme for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign is “Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender Based Violence and Femicide: Connect, Collaborate, Contract!”
The theme highlights how society’s unequal ownership of the economy has a direct impact on women’s vulnerability to violence.
It further emphasizes the importance of building women’s resilience through addressing barriers to socioeconomic opportunities and empowerment.
Makhosikazi, this year we need to do things differently.
The launch of 16 Days of Activism takes the form of a Women Trade Expo. The expo has attracted hundreds of women-owned businesses from across South Africa to showcase their products and services.
We want to facilitate connection, collaboration, and contracting amongst women to build resilience and advocate for transformative shifts in the ownership, participation and distribution of economic productivity and decision making processes.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The call for the economic empowerment of women cannot be separated from the broader call for a violence-free South Africa.
Both need to be met with urgency.
The scourge of gender based violence and femicide continues to undermine our efforts of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, and united South Africa.
A South Africa that is based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the protection of human rights of all.
Therefore, at the center of our response to GBVF, is to tackle the drivers of violence in our communities. This includes challenging the socio-economic status of women and other vulnerable groups including the youth, persons with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ persons.
Inclusive economic empowerment remains a key priority of the government and it is a central tenet to ensuring a more equal society for all.
Therefore, the theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism aims to strengthen programmatic approaches to accelerate the social and economic empowerment of women.
The approach seeks to promote and consolidate a number of programmes that have been implemented throughout the year that relate to the theme.
These programs include; the Provincial Summits on GBVF between September and October, the Second Women’s Economic Assembly in October, the Second Presidential Summit on GBVF in November, and the ongoing work our Department is engaged in with women in the green economy, focusing on economic opportunities in waste management.
Our intention throughout the year has been to make the linkages between building women’s resilience through socio economic empowerment and its influence in decreasing women and children’s vulnerability to forms of violence including GBVF.
Ultimately, we are saying that walking away from an abusive situation, must not lead women and children into poverty.
Fellow South Africans,
On 01-02 November, the Second Presidential Summit on Gender Based Violence and Femicide was convened under the theme, “Accountability, Acceleration and Amplification, NOW”.
The Summit created a platform to collaboratively discuss the developments and barriers to the full and effective implementation of the National Strategic Plan on GBVF across its six pillars.
As the custodian of the NSP, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities’ contribution to the process is aligned to the department’s overall vision to
“Provide strategic leadership, coordination and oversight to government departments and the country in mainstreaming empowerment programmes on women, youth and persons with disabilities.”
Part of realizing this vision locates the department at the helm of steering the coordination and institutionalization of the NSP across government and society at large.
My initial reflections from the Second Summit is that greater focus needs to be placed on improving the socioeconomic position of women and other vulnerable groups to reduce and prevent GBVF.
It is for this reason that this year’s 16 Days of Activism is premised on Pillar 2 on Prevention and Rebuilding Social Cohesion and Pillar 5 on Economic Power in the NSP.
Under Pillar 2, our Department has developed the Comprehensive National Prevention Strategy on GBVF, which is a key outcome of the pillar. In addition, at the recent Men’s Parliament in Cape Town, a clarion call was made to men and boys to be at the epicenter of our prevention programs.
Because, there is no ‘Bro Code’ when it comes to GBVF.
Under Pillar 5, our Department continues to work alongside the Presidency, private sector and government departments to advance the mandate of the Women’s Economic Assembly.
WECONA is a critical vehicle to addressing women’s unequal economic and social position, through access to government and private sector procurement, employment, housing, access to land, financial resources and other income generating initiatives.
The rights of women to dignity, security, safety and protection is non-negotiable.
We need to collaborate on developing, implementing, supporting and monitoring programs for equitable job creation, representation and ownership by women.
This includes strengthening the public-private sector partnerships to facilitate economic opportunities for women.
In addition, we must accelerate initiatives to empower our women who work the land.
We remain resolute on the call for land redistribution and agrarian reform. This includes funding women farmers to drive transformation deliverables through broadening ownership of SMMEs led by women, youth and persons with disabilities to build and capacitate entrepreneurship and economic resilience.
The world of work remains a critical site for activism.
We must continue to advocate for equal work for equal pay, alongside creating an enabling work environment for women.
This includes holding employers accountable for ensuring the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 190 in order to eliminate and prevent GBV and harassment in the workplace across all sectors. This is in line with South Africa’s commitment at the UN Generation Equality Forum.
As a government, we will continue to strengthen awareness and advocacy to ensure the full and compensated recognition of women’s unpaid labor. We will initiate interventions to reshape the structure of work in ways that value productive and reproductive labor.
In addition, we must leverage on the existing legislation to advance women’s economic empowerment.
The Employment Equity Act is a tool for eliminating gender and race wage disparity, promoting an inclusive working environment, and reducing barriers that alienate certain groups including persons with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ persons.
The power and impact of the Act to drive inclusive transformation requires compliance across all sectors and industries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.
It promotes women’s ability to reduce household poverty, hunger and food insecurity, as well as reduce the heightened levels of inequalities they face on a daily basis.
We continue to witness the power of empowering women economically through the Women’s Economic Assembly- WECONA.
WECONA continues to mobilize and establish the public-private sector partnerships to enable women owned enterprises to participate in procurement opportunities within industry supply chains.
WECONA has engaged with key sectors to advocate and negotiate for the establishment of transformation targets and actions.
These sectors include; Agriculture, Steel, Energy, Poultry, Textiles, FMCG, Automotive, Finance, Transport & Logistics, Tourism, ICT, Mining, Infrastructure, and the Green Economy.
In addition, WECONA has been instrumental in driving advocacy and accountability in the implementation of the 40% preferential procurement in the public sector towards women owned businesses.
Over the past year, it has been an honor to witness the rapid growth of this platform since it was first launched in October 2021 by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In addition to the incredible work done by WECONA, we must also acknowledge the 40% Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme (WEEP) as a key output under Pillar five of the NSP.
The programme provides sector related skills development and capacitation for women-owned businesses aimed at equipping them to participate effectively in economic activities including access to procurement opportunities across value chains.
To date over 6000 women-owned businesses have been capacitated with a set target of 10 000 by 2023.
All these initiatives contribute to the effective implementation and institutionalization of the gender responsive planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation & auditing framework.
Makhosikazi, Bo mme ba sechaba,
Today at the Women Trade Expo, we want to show that women can be equal players in the economy and contribute equally to the economic development of this country.
Equally, we want to encourage your participation in the various discussion forums and your interaction with the various exhibitions.
The goal is to unlock, create and activate resources, infrastructure, skills, and leadership for women at all levels of the National economic machinery.
Despite critical developments the scourge of GBVF continues to plague our society. The Quarter two crime statistics 2022/23 depict a horrific picture. Between July and September 989 women have been killed and between April to September, 558 children were killed in South Africa.
We remember 34-year-old Tankiso Tawanyana of Kimberley, in the Northern Cape, who was raped by three men who doused her with paraffin before setting her alight in October. 15 year-old Zenizole Vena of Gqeberha was gang raped and later passed away. A 17-year-old teenager was allegedly raped by an Eastern Cape police officer who was meant to interview her about an assault case she had opened against her boyfriend.
We can no longer afford to work in silos. The fight to end GBVF in our country must be championed by all members of society.
During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, may we be reminded that ours is in fact 365 Days of Activism to end GBVF.
Now, more than ever, we need to accelerate our responses and keep the momentum of addressing the scourge of GBVF.
I believe that through accountability and embracing the diversity and strength each sector brings we can challenge the normalization of violence in our communities, particularly against women and children.
We must hold on to the idea that the power to change South Africa is always in our hands.
We must work together and keep our promises to building a safer and inclusive South Africa for women, children and other marginalized groups as envisioned in the Constitution of our country.
Source: Government of South Africa