Statement delivered by Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to the Debate in the National Assembly on Women's Day

31 August 2021

THEME:  "The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke Advancing Gender Equality, Through Inclusive Economic Growth and the Precepts of a Capable Development State."

Honourable Nosisiwe Mapisa-Ngakula: Speaker of the National Assembly

Allow me, Madame Speaker, to begin by congratulating you on your election as the Speaker of the National Assembly. It is indeed encouraging to see that women's leadership remains a core commitment of our democracy in the country, and of the ruling party in the house. I am convinced that the extensive experience and leadership you have acquired in your previous portfolios will enable you to carry out this role and responsibility with utmost diligence and vigour.

It is also appropriate, Madam Speaker that your election to this esteemed and honourable seat in the house occurs during the National Women's Month. This is indeed a most gratifying tribute that is paid to the women veterans and heroines in the struggles for women's empowerment and advancement in our country.

This year we commemorate National Women's Day and the month in general under the theme: "The Year of Mme Charlotte Maanya-Maxeke: Realising Women's' Rights", in celebration of the 150th anniversary of her legacy.

She was the first Black women in South Africa to obtain a science degree (BSC) from the Wilberforce University, Ohio, USA.

She was a teacher, a community and church leader, a women of sound values and principles. She was a true political activist, and a daughter of the South African soil - a revolutionary figure that fiercely opposed oppression and patriarchy. Her legacy lives on 150 years later - and we want present day South Africans to emulate her values, ethics and leadership qualities.

Madame Speaker,

Today I stand before this august house with a heavy heart. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc globally, and devastated our lives and livelihoods. This pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the lives and livelihoods of women, girls and other vulnerable sectors - economically and socially. If it is not enough that women have lost income and employment; experiencing increasing poverty levels and hunger in households - women have to face a second pandemic - of gender based violence and femicide.

As we commemorate the National Women's Month, and the anniversary of Mme Charlotte Maanya-Maxeke, in the past week or two alone, there have been a number of violations of the rights of women and girls, some even resulting in heinous murders. The brutal killing of 26 year Nocixelo, a fourth year LLB student at the Fort Hare University, the rape of a grade 1 Gauteng pupil on the school premises itself, and the rape and murder of a 93 year old women in Bergville, KZN is the tipping point we have reached.

These three incidents alone highlight that GBVF is occurring across all age groups and across the country.  It knows no age, economic standing or educational levels. It is a scourge and a black mark on our country's commitment to realising women's rights.

GBVF is a societal problem and it therefore requires all of society - civil society, private sector and government - to take action to prevent and address the matter. Together we must bring an end to, and an eradication of, all forms of violence against women and girls, in all their diversities.

As Government, in partnership with other stakeholders in the country we are putting in place measures that seeks to address the scourge of GBVF.

Following the 2018 march of activists against the high levels of GBVF in the country, and the subsequent Presidential Summit on ending GBVF, a National Strategic Plan was developed and launched by the President, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, in March 2020.

Since then, Madam Speaker, there have been a number of measures implemented.   An Inter-Ministerial Committee on GBVF comprising key Ministers has been established. One of the responsibilities of the IMC on GBVF has been to promote the integration of the NSP into government's planning and budgeting process and of the institutionalisation of the implementation within key departments. Government has allocated R21 billion over the next three years to address the issue of GBVF through implementing the 6 pillars of the NSP.

His Excellency, President Ramaphosa also launched a Private Sector GBVF Fund at the end of 2020, and almost immediately corporates pledged R128 million rand to the Fund.

There is an active coordination mechanism of government, working in partnership with civil society, through a multi-stakeholder collaborative towards reporting and accountability on the implementation of the NSP.

To date 22 National Departments have submitted their Monitoring and Evaluation Plans on the NSP on GBVF and they have been reporting on progress on a monthly basis. This is up from only 10 departments who reported in the last financial year. We want to encourage those departments to continue to remain committed while urging those departments that have not yet reported to begin urgently to do so.

National departments are also in the process of integrating the NSP on GBVF priorities into their Departmental Annual Performance Plans.

Madam Speaker,

The processes of establishing the National Council on Gender Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) had been halted until the legislation that regulates the mandate, operations, powers and functions of the NCGBVF is in place.

The Bill has been drafted and is going through the cabinet processes. It is intended that the Cabinet sitting in September will approve the draft bill for gazetting for public consultation.

In order to ensure that the fight against gender based violence is not delayed, a secretariat that is made up of a Director, two Deputy Directors (one on Monitoring and Evaluation and the other on Stakeholder Management) and an Administrative Officer, has been appointed in the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

The Department is also in the process of refining the Monitoring and Evaluation System that is made up of Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, Plan and reporting tools in order to ensure that all departments (including Provincial departments), agree on SMART Monitoring and Evaluation plans and to ensure improved reporting.

A number of provinces have started the process of establishing the Multi-Stakeholder GBVF Provincial Coordination Structures, developing GBVF Provincial Monitoring and Evaluation Plans and integrating the NSP on GBVF priorities into their performance plans.

KZN, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape Province are among the provinces that have functional GBVF Provincial structures that have been established in line with the NSP on GBVF requirements. They have also developed GBVF monitoring and evaluation plans in line with the framework of the NSP on GBVF. Slow progress in implementation in other Provinces is a concern but the DWYPD has started the process of supporting these provinces.

Madame Speaker

Central to the implementation and institutionalisation of the NSP is the approach of localisation to fight this scourge across the metros and districts.

Slow progress in the implementation of the NSP on GBVF at the local government level is also a concern. As a result the DWYPD is supporting Municipalities to lead the fight against GBVF in their localities through the establishment of Multi-Stakeholder GBVF Rapid Response Teams, development of District and Local GBVF implementation plans and integration of the NSP on GBVF priorities into the Municipal plans.

In partnership with COGTA and the Office of the Premiers in the Provinces, the DWYPD has assessed District Development Plans of some of the Districts in the Western Cape and Northern Cape and made recommendations on what can be done in order to ensure integration of the NSP on GBVF priorities into their plans.

Information sessions where practical ways of ensuring that NSP on GBVF priorities are integrated into the IDPs of the Municipalities have been held with Municipalities in the EC, NC, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and KZN. The sessions with the remainder of the provinces are going to be completed by the beginning of September 2021.

Madame Speaker

We are happy to state that rapid response teams have now been launched in the Alfred Nzo district and in Lusisiki. Plans are underway to launch them in other districts.

It is critical that a prevention approach is adopted. Towards this end, the DWYPD is developing the draft National Prevention Strategy, which it will take through consultations in the near future.

Madam Speaker,

There is also progress on implementation of legislative reforms aimed at addressing gender based violence and assessment of laws aimed at combating gender based violence.

On the 03 June 2021, the National Assembly passed 3 gender based violence Bills, which are the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill. These Bills have been sent to the NCOP for concurrence.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill proposes amendments to strengthen legislation on regulation of the National Register for Sex Offenders. The Bill aims to expand the scope  - not only of the sex offenders to children and persons with mental disabilities but expand to include other vulnerable groups such as young women, persons with physical, mental, sensory, or intellectual disabilities and persons over the age of 60 years.

The amendment also proposes increase in the periods for which a sex offender particulars remain on the NRSO before they can be removed from the register, expand the ambit of the crime of incest and introduce a new offence of sexual intimidation.

The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill seeks to address practical challenges, gaps and anomalies which have manifested themselves since the Act was put into operation in 1999 and which render women and children helpless to the violence they experience, often in the confines of their homes.  The Bill aims to amend the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 in order to optimise collaboration between a range of government departments to streamline provision of services, simplify and clarify the roles of all relevant stakeholders, enhance the application of the Act to provide maximum protection through a civil process.

The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill aims to amend four Acts, namely the Magistrates' Courts Act 32 of 1944, the Criminal Procedure Act 51 0f 1977, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 85 of 1997 and the Superior Courts Act 7 of 2013. The purpose is to:

  • amend the Magistrates' Courts Act to provide for the appointment of intermediaries and the giving of evidence through intermediaries in proceedings other than criminal proceedings;
  • amend the Criminal Procedure Act to further regulate the granting and cancellation of bail and the right of a complainant in a domestic-related offence to participate in parole proceedings;
  • amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act to further regulate sentences in respect of offences that have been committed against vulnerable persons;
  • amend the Superior Courts Act to provide for the appointment of intermediaries and the giving of evidence through intermediaries in proceedings other than criminal.

In addition to the above the DOJ&CD holds a series of radio and social media programmes where there is discussion on relevant topics on the development and implementation of GBV Laws. This is towards adequate education of the public.

These "Let's Talk Justice" programmes is broadcast live on local radio stations.

Madam Speaker,

On 20 August this year, National Parliament through the Deputy Speaker of the NCOP successfully launched the Women's Charter for Accelerated Development following its review of the 1954 Women's Charter as well as the 1994 Charter for Effective Equality.

Both these Charters served as a bedrock on which our struggles for women's emancipation, empowerment, advancement and attainment of human rights rested. However when we assessed how far we have come against the principles and commitments of these two charters, many challenges emerged. These challenges continue to persist, which necessitated a comprehensive review towards a re-energised set of objectives to take women's empowerment and gender equality forward.

Madame Speaker

We therefore welcome the 2021 Women's Charter for Accelerated Development, and once again I wish to take this opportunity of thanking Hon Sylvia Lucas and her esteemed team, the honourable members of the National Council of Provinces in leading this review across all 9 provinces, 44 districts and 8 metropolitan municipalities. It is out of this extensive review that the Women's Charter for Accelerated Development, 2021 has emerged.

On behalf of all women in the country, we welcome this wonderful and exciting document, which so illustriously and comprehensively sets out an agenda for women's advancement and development for the next 25 years. It is truly a Demand Document for the women of South Africa.

It undoubtedly articulates and encapsulates a clear trajectory and pathway for the realisation of effective equality through well identified 15 strategic objectives and a large number of priority actions which are based on well-defined problem statements.

Madam Speaker,

The important question therefore is that of implementation of these priority actions outlined in the Charter. In order to ensure that these actions are being implemented, the DWYPD will have to monitor across all spheres of Government. We will do this through our accountability mechanisms which we have put in place on the Gender Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework.

This framework was adopted by Cabinet in March 2019 and is being implemented across national and provincial departments and across municipalities. Institutionalisation within performance plans and IDPS are critical. Together with this process, we will ensure that the actions outlined within the 2021 Charter for Accelerated Development will be institutionalised within the day to day work across the different spheres of Government.  

The monitoring will be in line with the Country Gender Indicator Framework developed by the DWYPD. The Women's Charter will be included as a national instrument and aligned with government's seven priorities as captured in the Medium Term Strategic Framework: 2019-2024.  The 12 Articles of the Charter will be translated into indicators in the Country Gender Indicator Framework and therefore be monitored.

Madame Speaker

We are also concerned with the high rate of unemployment in the country, including the rising levels of unemployment amongst women. This has been highlighted especially in the second quarter of this year.

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated already existing forms of discrimination and inequalities. Women and girls are affected in a multitude of ways, including economically. This crisis has thrust the spotlight on the precarity of women's roles in the labour force.

Despite this, the COVID-19 crisis also offers a unique opportunity for prioritization of women and girls in the economic recovery plans. Prioritizing women and girls is not just morally right, it is also an economic imperative.

Government is implementing various initiatives to promote gender equality. We are implementing sector specific strategies to embed greater impact across all sectors of our economy. This is critical in that to truly transform the economy we cannot move from a premise that focuses on pockets of our economy but rather the structural and systemic barriers of our economy need to be addressed. Sector Master Plans will play a key role in unearthing the potential of our women, youth and persons with disabilities.

We must revitalise our township and rural economies. It is for this reason that government, through the DTIC, IDC and NEF, has put in place an Economic Rebuilding Package to support various business recovery interventions at a total of R3.75 billion.

The priority is in terms of tangible programmes committing the public and private sector to 40% preferential procurement towards women-owned businesses of all sizes.  This is game-changing. It will transform the ownership structure in the economy by putting resources, ownership and power in the hands of women. It will create opportunities for their businesses to grow and be sustainable.

Therefore we need to actively advocate for programmes to strengthen and build capacity of women-owned businesses to participate in public procurement. We must also advocate for 40% minimum preferential procurement for women through the private sector as well. This is work that we are currently collaborating on with the Presidency which has a National Task Team for this programme of 40% preferential procurement.

The current database of suppliers on the CSD should be customised to mainstream women to give effect to relevant interventions that are timely and responsive to the unique needs of women-owned businesses. NT is working with DWYPD to put mechanisms in place to monitor both the CSD and the expenditure in relation to women led/owned enterprises.

Our second priority is to advocate for increased access to financial services and removal of barriers for women in trade. It is also an opportune moment to indicate that we will soon be co-hosting the Women's Economic Assembly (WECONA) with DTIC and the Presidency, which is aimed at advocating for equal economic participation of women in the economy in order to accelerate South Africa's economic recovery and curb the scourge of GBVF as envisaged in the National Strategic Plan - Pillar 5 on women's economic empowerment.

It is another innovative approach by women for women wherein we will continue to build and strengthen our strategic approaches to reach our end goal of transforming our economy by placing the empowerment of women at the centre of all government plans, equally we continue to work with the private sector to find innovative and constructive ways to walk this path together.

The specific purpose of this event is to bring together significant industry and government role players who can and will make supply chain specific commitments that advance women's participation in key sectors through direct market facilitation and procurement, as well as providing support enablers.

Through the work of the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights, we see all women with relevant skills in the world of work; a world where they are paid equal wages; they work in safe and secure workplaces; and where they can be leaders and decision-makers in their work environments. To this end, we are committed to advance a set of actions that will have long-lasting transformative effect.

Gender equality will be achieved when women have equal access to and control over resources, and equal participation and influence in economic decision-making.

This is why we are working on a women's bakery project with Gauteng Province, where their Township Economy War Room team will be driving the instruments that support the proposed programme. Which we can summarise as a clustered sourcing of baked goods from rural and township economies and further opening of formal markets in both the public and private value chains. It is part of our direct contribution to post-crisis township economic revitalisation and acceleration. A range of partnerships with the retail sector in townships and government, we envisage that it will open up real opportunities for the bakeries we are targeting.

We are also targeting women's economic opportunities through the green economy and climate change challenge. The DWYPD, in partnership with the DTIC and our development partner, UNIDO undertook a research on women in the green economy. This report was launched by Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane at the end of July this year.

The National Treasury has already welcomed the research and set up a platform - held on 30 August, yesterday - with its stakeholders in the waste management sector. The discussion looked at opportunities for women to enter into the waste sector towards starting their own enterprises but also to create employment for other women.

Women's economic empowerment means women can benefit from economic activities on terms which recognise the value of their contribution, respect their dignity and make it possible for them to negotiate a fair income.  An important lever in improving women's economic inclusion is through public procurement and access to private sector value chains.

We are currently developing implementable interventions with the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development for instance to respond to the urgent need for land, support and the productive use thereof by linking beneficiaries to productive markets. To this end we have agreed to collaborate on the following areas;

  • Programmes to expand access to and ownership of land by women, youth and persons with disabilities,
  • Implementation of the Rural Development Programme in favour of women, youth and persons with disabilities,
  • Food security programmes,
  • Land reform programmes with specific reference to land allocation for agricultural production to women, youth and persons with disabilities,
  • Rural enterprises and cooperative support including capacity building and facilitating access to markets to women, youth and persons with disabilities,

The DWYPD is also implementing the Sanitary Dignity Implementation Framework adopted by Cabinet in 2018. Until recently this programme was focused mainly on workshops that facilitated the coordination of interventions and opportunities within the Sanitary Dignity Programmes value chain. Measures are being put into place, which are tailored for women by women.

To put into effect a tangible industrialisation outcome we will soon be signing another strategic MOU and bring on board the DSBD, DTIC and their financing agencies with a suite of relevant and likeminded stakeholders, so that we can see many more women phased into the manufacturing sector of the sanitary dignity programme with a clear focus on localisation and building a competitive edge when working in unison.

We are also putting in place measures to ensure that the sanitary dignity programme value chain as a whole is one in which women take up the lead in the ownership and management of this entire sector. There are growing opportunities opening up in storage, packaging, distribution and waste management to name but a few. Our flagship project will be seeing more and more women in the manufacturing industries feeding a buzz of activity across the value chain.

Madam Speaker

In essence the country is working towards effective coordination and coherence, adequate allocation of resources, mainstreaming the meaningful inclusion and participation of women, accelerating women's economic empowerment and monitoring and evaluating progress towards the overall emancipation of women in the country.

There is a lot of work that is being undertaken. However much more needs to be done to ensure that women's human rights are fully realised.

I thank you!