Address by Minister Des Van Rooyen at the SALGA Women’s Commission Legkotla

Posted on Posted in Minister Des Van Rooyen

13 July 2016

Kempton Park

 

Programme Director,

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Ms Susan Shabangu,

Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize,

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Councillor Mondli Gungubele,

UN Women representative, Ms Anne Githuku-Shongwe,

SALGA Deputy Chair, Councillor Flora Maboa-Boltman,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

And last but not least, our women representatives,

 

Good Morning,

 

It is my pleasure to be here among the plethora of women leaders, who represent a fraction of the amazing women who make up this wonderful land South Africa.

 

This year we mark the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March that saw thousands of women stand together against the apartheid state.

 

We salute them.

Their efforts, and many others before and after them, laid the basis for the democracy we live and thrive in today.

 

Speaking at the opening of the first democratic parliament on 24 May 1994, our President Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela had this to say:

 

“It is vitally important that all structures of Government, including the President himself, should understand this fully that freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.

 

…the Government will, together with the representatives of the women themselves, look at the establishment of organs of Government to ensure that all levels of the public sector, from top to bottom, integrate the central issue of the emancipation of women in their programmes and daily activities.”

 

I am glad to say that this vision still guides us today.

 

The world and our country has progressed significantly, most especially in the past 22 years.

 

Last year the United Nations committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Sustainable Development Goal 5 is aimed at ‘Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.’

 

In 46 of the world’s countries women now occupy at least 30 percent of the seats in at least one chamber of the national parliament.

 

Among the targets for Goal 5 are:

 

  • “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

 

  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.”

 

I would submit these are among the objectives that should guide us in our efforts to create a more equal society, as envisaged in our Constitution.

 

We have made much progress since the coming into being of a democratic government.

 

Before the dawn of democracy in 1994, women in parliament accounted for a mere 2,7 percent.

 

This has changed significantly.

 

Currently women ministers comprise 41% of the cabinet.

 

Women deputy ministers make up 47% of the total number of deputy ministers.

 

There is a 41% representation of women in the National Assembly.

 

According to UN Women, in absolute numbers, South Africa has the largest number of women ministers at 15.

 

Of course, the UN Women is headed by one of our very own, the former Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

 

South Africa has produced a number of outstanding women leaders.

 

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was appointed as the first woman to chair the African Union Commission;

 

Ms Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, a former minister, is the African Development Bank’s Special Gender Envoy;

 

Professor Rashida Manjoo is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences;

 

and Judge Navi Pillay is the High Commissioner for Human Rights and formerly a judge in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

This is an indication of the impact that women in decision-making have in winning the trust and confidence of citizens in South Africa, on the continent and internationally.

 

Having set the bar very high, we cannot rest.

 

Women make up more than 50 percent of the population and we need to ensure that women occupy positions at all levels of government – be it national, provincial or local.

 

This high figure for women’s representation in parliament is largely a result of the efforts of the African National Congress (ANC).

 

We adopted a voluntary 30 percent quota for women in 2002, and increased this to 50 percent in 2009.

 

You’ll remember there was a women premier who insisted on surrounding herself with male MECs.

 

The African Union’s Gender, Peace and Security Programme 2015-2020 should also guide our actions, in particular the development of national action plans.

 

We are also in full support of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development that calls for 50/50 gender parity by 2015.

 

We congratulate the SALGA Women’s Commission for spearheading the efforts towards a 50/50 campaign for the 2016 Local Government Elections.

 

However, we also have to take note of the challenges in ensuring the political legitimacy of candidates.

 

The Women’s Commission has taken the lead in these efforts since its formation in 2010.

 

We appreciate your contribution in ensuring that women’s rights and efforts are recognised at local government level.

 

Transformation for non-sexism

 

As the national COGTA department we are committed to transforming the local government sphere towards non-sexism.

 

This includes the promotion & protection of human dignity and human rights of women through programmes such as the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), to develop women friendly infrastructure through MIG funding.

 

An example of this is improving access to Early Childhood Development Centres in every municipal ward by easing the burden of non-paid care work.

 

We continue to provide access to sanitation & bucket eradication.

 

Challenges in these areas affect women the most.

 

Even the placing of toilets outside the house expose women to rape and other forms of violence.

You can imagine the dangers in using the toilet at night.

 

Women also play an important role in ensuring that their households have water, electricity, and a clean and safe environment.

 

Hence, women should be mobilized in communities to take leadership in influencing municipalities to provide sustainable and affordable basic services.

 

Without clean water, children and women suffer the most.

 

Without regular electricity, women suffer most because they are expected to cook and bathe their children and the elderly.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

The Mayor of New York Mayor recently announced that the city will supply free sanitary towels or tampons to schoolgirls.

 

Our Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for youth issues, my comrade Buti Manamela, has also engaged in efforts to promote the provision of free sanitary towels at schools.

 

Municipalities are encouraged to follow this example.

 

Other measures such as the cutting of grass in municipal spaces and ensuring adequate street lighting to improve visibility improve safety and play a role in discouraging gender-based violence.

 

IUDF

 

The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) formalises these and other measures in working towards spatial transformation that will also benefit women.

 

Among the objectives of the IUDF is promoting Spatial Integration through creating new urban forms where the cost and time spent on travelling is reduced as people stay closer to work opportunities.

 

It is also about creating settlements that are spaces to work, play, live and shop.

 

The attainment of such a vision is that women can then have time to spend with their families and thereby improving their quality of life and for the rest of the families.

 

Apartheid spatial planning further reduced opportunities for women.

 

Another of the IUDF’s goals is the improvement of Inclusion and Access.

 

Ordinarily women suffer more from exclusion, and this goal aims to ensure that all, especially vulnerable groups, have access to both social and economic opportunities and choices.

 

The IUDF also brings Urban Safety to the fore.

 

The focus is on creating safe spaces, particularly in public spaces.

 

Women are generally victims of crime and grime and this cross-cutting issue is aimed at creating spaces where women are and feel safe

 

Employment Equity (EE) targets

 

Our employment equity targets are also aimed at achieving gender parity for women.

 

Currently 55% of Community Work Programme participants are women.

 

Our plan is to ensure that storekeeper and supervisor positions have 50/50 representivity.

 

However, employment equity targets are still not being met in the appointment of Section 56 & 57 managers.

 

Recent stats show that only 13% of Municipal Managers are women.

 

Only 27% of managers reporting to the MM are women.

 

This is a challenge that political female leaders in partnership with government and key partners need to tackle urgently.

The Municipal Systems Act is clear on adhering to EE targets.

 

COGTA, working with key partners such as yourselves will ensure that municipalities are implementing middle management development programmes focusing on preparing women for senior manager positions.

 

We will closely monitor recruitment practices to ensure that competent & qualified women are appointed to S56 & 57 positions.

 

Women also need to be represented in Ward Committees and ensure that WIP address gender specific programmes.

 

Creating an enabling environment for women empowerment

 

Distinguished guests,

 

We urge every municipality to have a gender focal point, with its own budget and sufficient human resources capacity to fulfil its goals.

 

Women’s forums must be established at ward level and they must attend Integrated Development Plan (IDP) hearings and be provided with a platform to make meaningful input into IDPs.

Establishing a policy environment

 

The DCOG’s Gender Policy Framework for Local Government (2015-2020) was updated and revised in 2015.

 

Going forward a set of guidelines with indicators and targets will be developed to monitor the implementation of policies relating to women empowerment in local government.

 

Gender mainstreaming

 

The Disaster Management Amendment Act that was recently passed obliges all sector departments to develop sector plans, which will address gender specific matters during a disaster.

 

Conclusion

 

SALGA,

 

I’ve outlined some of the measures that the department is taking not only to achieve gender parity, but to improve the lives of women.

 

Some of these we are working closely with you.

 

We hope that this conference will identify more innovative means through which we can further involve women in the local government sphere.

 

The holding of the fourth fully democratic local government elections on the 3rd of August will usher in a new era in local government.

 

Two hundred political parties and 61 014 candidates will contest these elections.

 

Compared to the 2011 elections, this election will cater for 65 percent more parties and 12 percent more candidates.

 

Of these candidates, approximately 60% are male and 40% are female.

 

Gender parity is more visible on party PR lists, where the gender ratio is 52 men to 48 women.

 

However, with ward candidates men outnumber women at 66 percent with women at 34 percent.

 

Of the 831 independent candidates, 86% are men and only 14% are women.

 

Limpopo province has the highest percentage of women province at 43 percent, followed by the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces (both at 42%) and then the Free State province (41%).

 

The province with the lowest percentage of women candidates is KwaZulu-Natal province with 34%.

 

Whatever the final gender tally is, we believe that all our incoming councillors should also receive training on gender awareness.

 

Our municipal councils should also consider educating communities on issues of patriarchy, gender discrimination and gender-based violence.

 

The vital role that cities play not only in providing basic services to citizens, but also in promoting economic growth is becoming increasingly important.

 

We need to consider how we ensure that women play a more leading role in achieving these and other goals.

 

More importantly, our efforts must produce the next generation of women leaders.

It would be amiss of me not to mention that we meet during Mandela Month, just days away from honouring our international icon, Nelson Mandela on the 18th of July.

 

In his autobiography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ Tata Madiba acknowledged that men had not acted alone in the struggle for liberation.

 

This is how he remembered the women of 1956:

 

“The women were courageous, persistent, enthusiastic, indefatigable and their protest against passes set a standard for anti-government protest that was never equalled.”

 

His actions in ensuring that almost a third of his Cabinet was composed of women set a new standard for women’s emancipation in South Africa.

 

It is a standard we have sought to build upon.

 

Let me close with another quote from Madiba that should give us all food for thought:

 

“As a tribute to the legions of women who navigated the path of fighting for justice before us, we ought to imprint in the supreme law of the land, firm principles upholding the rights of women. The women themselves and the whole of society, must make this a prime responsibility.”

 

I wish you well over your deliberations and look forward to your recommendations.

 

I thank you.