ADDRESS BY Ms CN Majeke MP in the National Assembly

SUBJECT FOR DISCUSSION: NATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Women United in moving South Africa forward

Honourable Speaker and Members

Despite progress reported in the Report on the Status of Women in South Africa; most rural women and girls are still facing more obstacles in gaining access to public service, social protection, decent employment opportunities, and markets and other institutions.

The voice of rural women must be recognised in policy making in order to end discriminatory practices and ensure their access to land and other productive resources.

When women are empowered and can claim their rights, they gain access to land, leadership opportunities, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.

Rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.

But limited access to credit, health care and education are amongst the many challenges they face, which are further aggravated by global food and economic crises and climate change. Empowering rural women is key not only to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also to the overall economic productivity.

Until women are seen as equal human beings, the eradication of gender based violence and empowerment of rural women and girls will not be successful. The huge sums of monies used every year during the National Women’s Month should also help to introduce preventative measures which will help to prevent women from being victims of human trafficking, patriarchal system, social and economic ills.

In the words of the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance”.

Indeed pathways out of poverty for rural women should include measures designed in such a way as to reflect the complexity of gendered rural livelihoods.

Policies intended to address rural poverty should not be treated in isolation hence it is important to implement education, land and credit measures, as well as active labour market policies and social protection in an integrated manner, understanding their interdependencies and fostering synergies.

Thank you