National Women’s Day Debate on “Gender and institutionalism- Towards strengthening the National Gender Machinery” by the Hon Nkhensani Bilankulu

03 September 2019

Honourable Speaker

Before I contribute to the debate. Minister, it is our collective duty to eradicate gender- based violence and femicide. Until when will we allow men to kidnap our children? We are grateful that Amy- Lee de Jager has been returned home safely, but what about Amahle Thabethe an 8-year old from Gauteng whose been missing since April? What about Janika Mallo, a grade 7 pupil from Northwood Primary, Cape Town whose head was bashed in, brain leaking from the left inside of her face? What about Jesse Hess, a first- year student from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) who was murdered and found dead on her bed? And Uyinene Mrwetyana who was raped and murdered? Women are finding themselves asking if #AmINext?

As the ANC we call for a State of Emergency to be declared on GBV and femicide. Men who murder women and children must get nothing less than a life sentence. Cases on Gender- Based Violence and femicide must be fast- tracked. That the Houses of Parliament must review how the law deals with perpetrators of violence against women and how it complicates matters. And the ANC calls for an activist society, working together to call out those that are culprits of abuse, violence against women and children, rapists, paedophiles, and against all those who seek to undermine the Constitution, the cornerstone of our democracy which strives for a non- sexist society.

The ANC, in the multi-party caucus will lobby other parties to ensure that it engages the programme of parliament to ensure that it does not leave out issues of women. Measures will be put in this regard to ensure efficient and effective oversight.

Honourable Speaker, one of the earliest expressions of women rising up against their triple oppression was in demonstrated in the Women’s Charter of 1954.It highlighted the material conditions of African, Coloured and Indian people in general and women in particular. Conditions that were oppressive which deprived women from them inherit rights and depicted them as inferiors.

The Women’s Charter formed part of the 1956 Women’s March, which remains one of the highlights of the national liberation struggle and a turning point in the women’s struggle. It acknowledged the triple oppression of women and the role of women in the struggle.

The historic Malibongwe Conference of 1990, organised by the Women’s Section of the ANC and the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement under the theme ‘Women United for a Unitary, Non-racial, Democratic South Africa’ addressed women’s oppression specifically and develop non-sexist policies for a future South Africa’. The ANC has been at the forefront of women’s struggles, by putting forward a vision for a non-sexist society, and institutionalizing gender equality and women’s empowerment through its policies, its institutional arrangements and intervention measures.

Welcome the re- launch of the National Gender Machinery. Gender programmes in departments must be properly institutionalized to effectively implement policy decisions that impact on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Economic participation and job creation are significant tenants of the seven priorities of this government. A non- negotiable, is that we must create and provide a conducive environment that will enable women to participate and thrive in the economy. Women must lead and must own businesses, co- operatives and thrive in industry.

The empowering of women means improving the quality of their lives by investing in the development of sustainable infrastructure projects. We must ensure on a regular basis that we monitor, evaluate and report on the implementation on the September 2015, Presidential Directive. It specified that the economic sector, employment and infrastructure cluster Ministers must embed the empowerment of women in their departmental plans and expenditure.

In advancing economic transformation and the participation of women in the economy, we welcome the enforcement of the Gender Planning and Budgeting Framework approved by Cabinet. This must be implemented across government to ensure that departmental budgets are engendered. This will include an annual report of the private sectors contribution to economic transformation and gender equality.

We cannot speak of the economic empowerment of women without referring to women and their access to land. The November 2017 Land Audit Report indicated that women own just seventeen (17%) percent of land compared to the forty- six (46%) percent owned by men. We can no longer be theoretical about this urgent issue; it must be urgently addressed, women must own the land they must also continue to work the land and produce food on a large scale and also become property developers. The impact of this will be its contribution to the eradication of hunger as their families will have access to food.

The connection between food security nutrition, land and gender is significant in ensuring a gendered approach to food security. Our concern is that female- households are as a result of poverty, more prone to food insecurity, which can be worsened by a lack of access to land ownership, means of production and income generating activities.

We have to destroy the systems of unequal gender relations and oppression against women, if we as a country are to build a non- sexist society that achieves gender equality and women’s empowerment. It therefore, is important that in its re-launch the national gender machinery as set out in the 2000 Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, ensures that it “shows progression towards the allocation of resources for the benefit of women in rural and urban areas and mechanisms ensuring that these resources reach them.” This will contribute greatly towards ensuring that we achieve the recommendation of the National Development Pan that states that “transformation of the economy should involve the active participation and empowerment of women.”

I thank you.