need to Speed up transformation
HE South African Constitution has enshrined fundamental rights, grants equality to women, and further empowers the government to take measures to empower women.
Since 1994 we have seen gradual growth in the empowerment and development of the status of women in our country.
Women are making their mark in politics, in the economy and in society in general, but the process still needs to be speeded up.
Research done on the status of South African women in the country's National Policy Framework for Women's Empowerment, particular on gender equality, shows that "the majority of South African women live either in abject poverty or in fear of becoming poor". It remains an important area of focus and relevance.
It further states that for gender equality to be achieved, gender relations, poverty, HIV-Aids, access to basic needs and resources and employment, among other issues, must be addressed.
Women continue to be the majority in our country and play a crucial role in almost all households.
Poverty and underdevelopment in South Africa affect women the most. But the situation is more dire for rural African women.
It is against this backdrop that the emancipation of women to national liberation, born out of struggle, is characterised by the triple nature of their oppression: in terms of race, gender and class.
If we are to further make a mark and provide healthy and improved livelihoods for South Africa and its people, we need to act with unprecedented speed, a targeted approach and a renewed way of working that involves all sectors of society and focuses on women.
This is even more urgent as we have to ensure that our country meets the millennium goal of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014.
The genuine concerns of our people in regard to service delivery and other challenges faced by our people, as evinced by the recent protests, also demonstrate their active participation. Clearly this indicates that many women continue to be poor and that our fight against poverty should pay more attention to their plight.
The government's new mandate presents an opportunity for us to be able to move our society forward by aggressively, or as we put it in Gauteng, that kuyasheshwa.
The government must continue taking the lead to ensure emancipation of women in our society, business must create economic opportunities aimed at women, and society must respect women and give them the status they deserve.
For us to achieve better results than the past 15 years we must ensure that all these sectors work closely together. Together we can do more to improve the livelihood of women.
The new Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities gives us a great platform to achieve this objective.
The current work of the government that includes:
lImproved services delivery;
lRedistribution and socio-economic transformation;
lHolding public representatives and government accountable;
lRenewal to change in the manner in which we do things and achieve better socio-economic outcomes, in particular inclusive development;
lTotal reprioritisation of government plans and programmes; and
lA review of existing policies, frameworks, contracts, resource utilisation and organisational configuration must ensure that we target women.
When we work towards creating decent work and building sustainable communities - ensuring that we provide quality education and healthcare, embarking on rural development, food security and land reform, building a developmental state with capacity to redirect resources for the transformation of the lives of our people - women empowerment, development and progress must be at centre stage.
We need to be very decisive about the use of government resources to empower women. This will allow our work with civil society and the private sector to increase our efforts even further and impact on the fight against poverty.
The capacity of civil society and private sector expertise and the corresponding resources must also form part of such an initiative.
On National Women's Day, should therefore be a vow and commitment from South Africans, in particular women, in their organised and nonorganised social formations to develop a mature relationship and share overall objectives; limit space for radicalisation and destructive conduct; and reopen space for constructive engagement to become part of common vision.
The focus of this partnership must be the alignment of government programmes, civil society initiatives and private sector participation to further enhance our efforts.
Let us march into the future knowing that women had to fight hard to achieve our freedom and the right to vote, now we must march on confidently towards creating a society in which ordinary women and girls must be at the centre of all we do in government. Politics is about service to our people. lThe writer is premier of Gauteng