Joint sitting of parliament to celebrate Women’s Month

Speech By The Honourable Premier of The Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the joint sitting of parliament to celebrate Women’s Month, 20 August 2014

Chairperson of the NCOP
Honourable Members of the NCOP

As we continue to celebrate women’s month, we pay tribute to the valiant struggle of many resolute women of our country and to the lives of countless other women who have made great sacrifices, who embarked upon meaningful endeavours, and torn down historic artificial barriers of prejudice.

We are inspired by the 20 000 strong women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to present a petition in defiance against the apartheid and repressive laws. Thanks to the visionary leadership of brave women such as Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn to name a few of the core leaders who braved the might of the repressive apartheid junta. 

We must keep alight the flame of hope and progress that these revolutionary women have ignited. We are forever indebted to these women who have fought and provided us with leadership towards equality.

Honourable Chairperson, as women who are pioneering the future, it is imperative that we study the incredible women of our past who inspire us and provide us with examples of how to make a difference. As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter and 20 Years of Democracy, we will work hard to ensure that these heroines of South Africa are recognised and celebrated in our schools, workplaces, and communities throughout our country. We can say that in many areas of life, women now enjoy more fully their rights to education, healthcare, and inclusion in the workplace and societies at large. However, we acknowledge that vast inequalities persist.

In spite of some challenges, we are also extremely grateful for the significant strides that government has made over 20 years of democracy to improve the socio economic and political standing of women in our country. Our government is on course to attain the noble goal of uniting our country to build a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

In pursuit of this goal, our government repealed all the racist, repressive and discriminatory laws that undermine the dignity and integrity of women to ensure that women realise their full potential.

Honourable Chairperson, in honour of these heroines, we will continue to deepen the active and full participation of women in all spheres of government, active participation in the economy such as the agricultural sector, construction industry as well as the renewable energy sector.

It will ensure ownership by women of capacity building, management, and control of diverse spheres of the economy, including manufacturing, insurance, construction, and transportation.  Tapping into existing expertise in these fields, harnessing talent, and forming structures that can lobby and access capital are the best ways to create greater participation in the economy.

The potential of women to contribute to economic growth and prosperity, to social progress, peace, and good governance is still untapped in too many areas in our society.  And gender-based violence not only destroys the lives of individual girls and women, it also robs our world of the talent, initiative, and dedication we urgently need to make the world better for everyone.

We should agree that people are empowered when they can make full use of their talents and energy for the benefit of themselves, their community, and their country.

Honourable Members, I know for a fact that a community becomes empowered and starts to develop only when the women are granted respect, dignity, education, and freedom to pull their families and fellow citizens out of poverty. We also know that women possess the initiative, creativity, and intelligence to make monumental changes in themselves, their communities, and their country.

In order to empower our women, the province launched the Mme Re Ka Thusa Women’s Development Trust with the main aim to alleviate poverty levels in Northern Cape. The Trust was formed to assist previously disadvantaged women on economic empowerment initiatives throughout all five (5) Districts of the Province. To this end, the Trust has assisted a substantial number of women to either own a business or expand existing businesses. It has also help train women to manage and run their business effectively.

We have pledged as a province to prioritise and mainstream women's socio-economic empowerment and women's rights across all sectors of society in the next five years.

We will continue to pay attention to the empowerment of women in the socio- economic and political spheres of society. We will take forward the advances we have made in promoting women’s empowerment and development.

We will further ensure that we strengthen women cooperatives to stimulate economic development. We would also monitor the implementation of gender policies to measure their effectiveness in the province.

For many of you in this august house, I know you have your own personal story of the women who have encouraged and helped you in your life and career. And I believe that we have a responsibility to continue that cycle and to do our part to foster and encourage the careers and development of the next generation of women leaders.

We will only achieve true women’s empowerment when we all live in a socially transformed society that inculcates and upholds the values of justice, equality, and human rights for all.

May we renew our commitment to charting that course and embark boldly on our work in pioneering the future.

Let’s work together to remember that the freedoms we have today as women were incredibly hard won and that they continue to be worth fighting for now and in the future.

I thank you

 

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