Address by Ms CN Majeke, MP, in the National Assembly

Honourable Speaker,
Mr President
Mr Deputy President
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) joins the millions of citizens of this country and the world to pay tribute to the women of South Africa for the central role they continue to play in liberating this country. These heroines acted as a conscious and formidable force of the liberation struggle, some even sacrificing their lives for freedom.

Accordingly, any process which undermines the emancipation of women is fundamentally hostile to the objectives of a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

In this regard and as this parliament, together with the people of South Africa, it is important to answer the question whether we have made and continue to make progress with regard to the emancipation and empowerment of women.

We must continuously measure the progress we make in this area so that we can determine what we should do next.

There is no doubt that some progress has been made on women emancipation and empowerment particularly in the public sector. On this important day that celebrates our heroines, we make a call on the corporate world to meaningfully join the movement towards a non-sexist society. Certainly, it is not possible to realise our full economic potential with women on the margins of economic development agenda and process.

Honarble Speaker, the empowerment of women does not only relate to high positions in the public and private sectors. It must amongst others, entail that, the ordinary women in the rural areas are freed from the daily arduous and back breaking task of walking long distance to fetch wood and carry river water. The ordinary rural women should be freed from abusive stereotypical cultural practices that undermine their humanity and freedom.

Emancipation must mean that we make the necessary progress to arm women with education, skills and information so that they can participate meaningfully in the economic and social development opportunities that are available to them.

Government should, amongst others, strengthen its tender processes so that through its interventions, visible change in the lives of ordinary South African women are seen.

Both the public and private sectors should source their services and products from women-owned and managed businesses, taking the necessary measures to promote, mentor and empower such business women. The commitment by government to “buy local” must deliberately favour women.

Government must engage both trade unions and employers to act together to bring to an end the continuing sexual abuse of women in the work place as well as those seeking employment. Women’s right must be protected if we are to decisively move towards a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

As this parliament and the nation, we have a responsibility and duty, to unite against the barbaric acts of rape and abuse of women and children. We must ask ourselves, what has happened to Ubuntu when these inhuman things happen. We should not shirk our responsibility and ignore the abuse of women and children on the basis that it is the task of police to deal with these matters. We must decisively discharge our responsibilities within the confines of law.

We also need to pay more attention to the challenge of gender and disability, because women with disabilities face a double jeopardy which applies to those young and old. This is important because we sometimes find that women with disabilities are open to more abuse than other women.

The task of women empowerment and emancipation demands that South Africans work together. Indeed by doing all these things together, we will perfectly celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter and twenty years of freedom whilst moving towards a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

Thank you