By Mankosi Singo
Pretoria, South Africa – The United Nations Women South Africa Multi-Country Office, in collaboration with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, launched the 2019 Women’s Month Programme at an event held in Pretoria at the Sheraton Hotel on 31 July under the theme: “25 Years of Democracy: Growing South Africa Together for Women’s Emancipation”.
Speaking at the launch, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities highlighted the lack of support to people living with disabilities as one of the urgent issues that need urgent action. She called on all government departments to have results-driven programmes that are impactful and responsive towards women’s needs and participation. The minister also expressed her dissatisfaction towards the exclusion of women in the production of sanitary products and emphasized economic empowerment for women. The minister also spoke about gender roles in homes and how it affects boys as they become adults and insisted that change must start in people’s own homes.
The minister said “This year marks 65 years of the Women’s Charter and 63 years since the famous Women’s March from Church Square to the Union Buildings. Although we have come a long way to achieve the freedom that women have today, a lot still needs to be done to empower our women”. All stakeholders need to unite and implement results-driven projects with measurable success in order to drive the desired change.
Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in South Africa, commended the South African government for having 50% of its ministers as women and that although there are numerous talks around the topics affecting women, not enough action has been taken to address these issues.
In her remarks, Anne Githuku-Shongwe, the Representative of UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office, talked about, “the need to identify any discriminatory laws against women in South Africa and to take steps to harmonize the laws to address the various issues surrounding women such as abortion”.
Ambassador Mr. Raul de Luzenberger, European Union in South Africa, emphasized the importance of creating equal societies for both women & men to support the implementation of SDG5.
In her closing remarks, Annette Griessel, the Deputy Director General for Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management at the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, called for joint development and implementation of projects to attain meaningful and impactful results.
The discussions were centered on women empowerment, gender equality, equal opportunities for both women and men, unemployment, reducing the gender gap in agriculture, quality education and the lack of support for people with disabilities.
The event was attended by UN staff, members of the diplomatic corps, the media and government representatives.