UDEMWO, women

United Democratic Women’s Organisation

With the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, on 17 October, we aim to raise awareness about the need to eradicate poverty and the associated human rights as well as the attending dignity issues.

According to Statista.com, “As of 2023, around 18.2 million people in South Africa are living in extreme poverty, with the poverty threshold at 1.90 U.S. dollars daily. This means that 162,859 more people were pushed into poverty compared to 2022.

In addition, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) found that in the second quarter of 2023, women’s unemployment rate stood at 35.7% while it was at 30% for men.

Child poverty remains racially and geographically distorted. African children and mostly those living in former homelands, are most likely to be poor. While the national child food poverty rate was 33% in 2019, it was 37% for African children and 51% for African children living in rural areas and former homelands – this according to a report commissioned by the Department of Social Development (DSD) and researched and written by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town.

The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) believes that these statistics should be of great concern to all 62 million of us. Political freedom means nothing without economic emancipation; and women and children are bearing the brunt of poverty in South Africa.

To make matters worse the DSD is severely dysfunctional and has recently returned R15 billion to the National Treasury and hardly a month passes without social grant payment failures of some sort. UDEMWO categorically rejects the deplorable services rendered by the DSD, especially at pay-point centres. Senior citizens and disabled persons still have to queue for long hours to receive their grants.

According to the General Household Survey for 2022 by Stats SA, nationally, grants were the second most important source of income (50.2%) for households after salaries (59.7%). Grants are the primary source of income for almost one quarter (23.5%) of all households in South Africa.

The economic policies of the ruling party have produced jobless growth. This has led to hundreds of thousands retrenchments, especially among the unskilled. These people are often the sole breadwinners in their households. Ruling party policies have thus increased the bulk of people who depend on government welfare assistance to survive.

The needs of every South African citizen is rooted in the need for a decent job and income. Therefore, massive unemployment is at the root of every significant challenge facing South Africa today.

The present government lacks the policies aimed at alleviating the need of especially the poor and economically marginalised people. It is critical that we recognise that a responsible government cannot depend on market forces alone, and sit back while the economy and the quality of life of all its citizens are destroyed.

Issued by:
Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General