South Africa: President calls for women's emancipation
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 06 Jul 2012
Title: President calls for women's emancipation
Pretoria - The mere recognition of women's rights is not enough, says President Jacob Zuma.
He says the country must do more to hasten the entry and participation of women in decision-making processes and positions.
Speaking at the 2nd National Conference of the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa in Umthatha, Eastern Cape, this morning, the President said to achieve this, all men and women, must actively work to promote women's rights as human rights.
To address some of the challenges faced by women, Zuma highlighted that government was fast-tracking the Gender Equality Bill, which will promote the prohibition and elimination of discriminatory religious practices, and eliminate discrimination in access to socio-economic rights.
"It will seek to prohibit harmful traditional practices. It will help eliminate and prohibit discrimination in employment and other opportunities for women. The provisions of the Bill also already talk to the need for the participation of women in the economy and also full economic emancipation for women," he told the conference.
However, he said the legislation alone would not achieve the goals -- a united front will be needed from all corners.
He said the Progressive Women's Movement must work with the relevant government departments on an ongoing basis to promote development and women's emancipation.
Zuma said the country was already making progress in many areas. After the adoption of the 50/50 gender parity at the 2007 Conference of the ANC, women representation increased to 44%. However, women's representation in local government decreased from 40% to 38% after the 2011 elections.
"The country missed the opportunity at these elections to advance local government towards a 50/50 gender parity because some political parties did not feature an adequate number of women on their candidate lists for local government," Zuma admitted.
Government's goal is to achieve the 50/50 gender parity by 2015 as required by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development.
In the public sector and private sector, numbers are also still lagging behind. According to the 2011 Women in Corporate Leadership Census of the Business Women's Association, women hold only 4.4% of CEO or managing director positions, 5.3% of chairperson positions, and 15.8% of all directorships.
He called on organisations such as Business Unity SA and the Black Business Council to work intensively on the gender question in business and assist the country to move towards the 50/50 parity as required.
The President reminded the conference that gender equality is not just about opening up opportunities in leadership positions for women, but rather about improving the quality of life of women in general.
"Therefore, it is of concern to us that poverty inequality and unemployment still affects women and the youth intensively," he said, adding that the government was in the process of transforming the economy to promote labour-absorbing growth and fight poverty, especially among women.
He called on the conference to help government identify activities and programmes in which the participation of women would have a meaningful impact, to respond to the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty, inequality. - SAnews.gov.za
Reported by: South African Government News Service
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