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Women's Ministry mooted

By unknown | Apr 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

South African women have called on the government to establish a women's ministry that will look at the development of women and accelerate gender transformation.

Voicing their views at a summit held recently in Boksburg, the women, coming from different backgrounds that included politics, business, religious groups and NGOs, said while much has been done to develop women, there were still too many women trapped in unbearable situations.

They also acknowledged that the economic gap between men and women had also widened in 15 years, with men still benefiting more from the democratisation of society.

The women said the establishment of a women's ministry would help address women's issues.

The summit, convened by the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa, said the ministry will give priority to programmes that will reduce the burden of poverty on women, especially in rural areas and poor urban areas, provide women with skills, promote economic empowerment and transform the private sector to enhance gender equality and address gender-based violence, among others.

Gender activists who attended the summit included Sheila Meintjies, a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, Renosi Mokate, deputy governor at the Reserve Bank of South Africa, Pregz Govender, a commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, and Nomcebo Manzini, regional programme director at UNIFEM.

Criticising the South African National Gender Machinery (NGM), Meintjies said: "The substantive equality was translated in narrow terms to mean women empowerment or to improve the lot of women.

"The role of gender relations was thus not addressed - with severe consequences."

She said the NGM structures were under-funded and fraught with problems - such as a lack of commitment to the idea of women empowerment.

Commenting on the current global economic crisis and its effect on South African women, Mokate suggested that part of the solution to the unemployment of women would be to identify sectors in the economy that were growing and where women were under-represented.

The proposed establishment of a women's ministry is expected to be one of the new ministries formed after the April 22 elections.


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