2014 is certainly an auspicious year with the commemoration of a number of milestones, such as the sixty years that have passed after the adoption of the Women’s Charter of 1954.

As is right, we take the time to, as a nation, make introspection on the role that women play in our society; in particular the contributions they made in the struggle against apartheid and the years before and thereafter.

It is worrisome that some experts, such as Professor A Gouws (who is imminently qualified to speak on the issues of women and gender equality), have charged that the National Development Plan (NDP) was overall, gender blind, disregarding women’s gendered practical and strategic needs and concerns. These, if taken into account, should lead to a redistribution of resources and economic growth. There is a single specific reference to women in the NDP .

This is very disturbing. Therefore, despite the programmes of your department, it is clear that there is still much work to be done to have society acknowledge women’s stake in a prosperous South Africa.

We might have differing views on the NDP, but that does not change the fact that government will be charting its course according to this policy. We simply have to build its strengths and buttress the weaknesses.


Whilst acknowledging the women who paved the way for our freedom, we must have a forward perspective at this point in time of South Africa’s growth.

It is imperative that we move the women’s agenda forward – which is our apt theme this year. I however I find the international women’s day’s slogan more fitting: “Inspiring change”.

The foundation has been laid and we must therefore inspire change and build with haste.

Women must not only inspire their sisters young and old, but so our men. Men and boy children must be inspired to give women the respect that they deserve and acknowledge their human capital – or should I say “female capital”. The cycle of violence and abuse, the belittling women and blind patriarchy must be broken.

With women constituting over 50% of the South African population, it is imperative that we must break down the walls of ignorance and provide opportunities for women to learn and to exchange information on issues of mutual interest to advance gender equality.

We know what must be done, the question is… how do we put action to the words and more importantly, how do we sustain momentum.

South African is privileged to have a whole department dedicated to this cause, but we are not “feeling the change”. The department has been riddled with problems and has not had the impact it should.

The Minister would surely agree with UDEMWO that things have to change. In fact, positive change should already have been seen and felt shortly after President Zuma created this department. We ask when will we see the paradigm shift necessary in the work of the department? When will women, especially those in the farthest corners of this country, feel the abundant progress?

UDEMWO’s slogan is: “Fight against poverty”. Instead of us taking punches from the relentless attack of poverty, we need to take the fight to its doorstep.

We stand with our hands reaching, as we have since 1997, and we wait for you to take our hands. To my sisters in other parties, it is clear that we need to rise above party political lines and stand together as women before it is too late.

We will look to the ministry in the next five years for leadership. Talk to us. We might not all be academics, but we certainly have the necessary experience in our field of expertise: that of women and girl children.

We want you to be our ally to “Fight against Poverty”.

Wathint’ abafazi wathint’ imbokodo