WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATIONS AND UNVEILING OF THE STATUE FRANCES BAARD
09 AUGUST 2009
I would like to express my pride and gratitude at being part of this momentous occasion among so many distinguished women and men committed to gender transformation and women empowerment.
We honouring the 20 000 strong women who had been instrumental in putting South Africa on the path of gender transformation, who had marched on the Union building, Pretoria in 1956,09 August, to denounce the pass laws system, racial segregation, gender discrimination and demand an end to the brutality of the apartheid regime.
We are assembled to pay tribute to the heroism displayed by the martyr generation of Sophie de Bruyn, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Amina Cachalia, Frances Baard and many other heroines of our country in the quest to build a just society.
Year after year, through the ongoing struggles for basic rights, for respect, and for equality, the women of this country have taken on more and more leadership roles in the great challenges of our time.
The historic anti-pass march of 1956 placed women at the forefront of the political struggle against racial oppression, indignity and gender discrimination. Their bravery shaped the history of our country and plight of our people.
This year's Women's Day celebrations take place under the theme "Together empowering women for development and gender equality," a call by government to all sectors of society, to unite in a national effort for the advancement of women in all spheres of our national life.
This theme says to each and every one of us that with the power of women unleashed, with women’s potential given impetus to flourish, we can be assured of a brighter and a better future for all our citizens.
Programme director, we are here because of a long line of women that took the lead in the struggle for national liberation. We have come to unveil the statue that will forever declare our homage to the life and vision of Frances Baard.
Frances Goitsemang Baard was a remarkable woman born in Beaconsfield in Kimberley in 1909. She has dedicated her entire life for the improvement of her community and fighting for the rights of her people until her death in June 1997.
As a good organiser, she was elected into positions of leadership throughout her life. These positions included
The first person to be elected as Organising Secretary for the African Food and Canning Workers Union in Port Elizabeth
Organising Home Care for men and women who had been imprisoned for their part in the Defiance campaign. Elected as the President of the Federation of South African Women (FSAW Port Elizabeth branch) in April 1954. The three main aspects of FSAW were: the emancipation of women; its commitment to the national liberation movement; and multiracialism.
She held strong beliefs and was very brave. This in itself led to many clashes with the SA Police as she made herself vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction against the deterioration of men’s single hostels, the rejection of Bantu Education, the opinion of women in the governing of South Africa, and refusing to carry a pass, etc.
African women have a lot that they can draw on for inspiration. We have a long history of great women throughout the Continent; women with public profiles, as women patrons of the arts, women as saints and scholars, and women as warriors who have shaped our history, our art, our culture and values.
We have to look for inspiration at the women of our African past that tell our grandchildren and children stories of African heroines that administered nations, commanded men soldiers into victorious battles, and built powerful economies.
Programme director, as South Africans celebrate Women's Day, we should acknowledge that much still has to be done in order to achieve the true emancipation of women from the adversities they have endured because of their gender, race and social status.
Violence against women and children affects millions of individuals, families, communities, and businesses each year. Violence takes many forms: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. It knows no economic, racial, or cultural bounds. The impact of this violence on individuals and communities is acute, pervasive, and long-standing, bringing to light the diverse needs for improved direct services, increased training for human service professionals working with victims and their families, and innovative research on best practices regarding violence against women and children
Women still suffer abuse and assault at the hands of their spouses; that our women and young girls are the targets of rapists; and that that they are still brutally killed and terrified for life.
We are also living in a time were the HIV/AIDS pandemic is causing havoc and leaving in its wake a trail of destruction, deaths, orphans and child headed households that in many cases are left to fend for their families on their own. The United Nations Report indicates that in sub-Saharan Africa more than 50% of those living with HIV/AIDS are women.
Ladies and gentlemen, the national governments mandate underscores the need to create a nation united in diversity, working together to weave the threads that will result in the creation of a democratic, non racial, non sexist and prosperous society. Our vision of a truly non-sexist society is dependent on the collective effort of all South Africans. Our freedom is not complete until women are seen as equal partners in our quest for a better life for all.
The late President of Mozambique, Samora Machel an African Revolutionary: once said that there can be no true freedom without the emancipation of women. “As long as women are kept in condition of subjugation, a condition imposed in the course of centuries by various systems of exploitation, freedom would not have been accomplished”.
It is in this context that we must vigorously promote and protect the 50/50 gender representation in all the aspect of our society, both in the public sector and the private sector. Women must also be encouraged to occupy and fill senior posts which were previously seen as the male domain.
Despite the difficulties and hardships that women continue to experience, our government have made big strides in advancing the course of developing women in our country.
• The establishment of the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities consolidates our programme to continue the development of women in our country.
• The Women’s Empowerment Fund and the Employment Equity Act continue to ensure the appointment and support for women in top leadership positions in government and the private sector.
• Through interventions such as the rural and local economic development programmes and social safety systems we continue to reduce the burden of women-headed households who bear the brunt of poverty.
• Policies that economically empower women as we surge ahead with transformation, growth and development of our economy from the terrible legacy of our unjust past.
• Legislation that promotes women’s rights and protects them against sexual, domestic, economic and other forms of abuse.
• Policies, structures and practices that seek to mainstream gender equality within the public service and in society.
• The Kha ri Gude literacy campaign will build functional literacy amongst the marginalised adults including women.
• Our Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS programme.
In as much as Women's Day is about the celebration of the achievements of women in our society, it is also about the reminder of the injustices still suffered by women all around the world.
Let us put women at the centre of the development of our country and our continent .Women’s participation in all sectors of society is something that all of our leaders strive for, as the most integrated societies are the most successful societies. Women play important roles in business and economic development. Over the years and in many parts of the world, women have become successful entrepreneurs, professionals and captains of industry. Many have taken on leadership positions in society, in government and in international organisations.
While we cannot deny that we still have many challenges to overcome, all of us here today are in a good position to be role models and to encourage women to develop the confidence and skills needed to achieve their goals. We need encourage our girl children to become engineers, architects, scientist, astronauts and doctors etc. to help build and grow our economy.
Our society owes it to our women to ensure that we restore the culture of love and respect for women. We seriously need to live up to the principles as enshrined in our constitution to promote the equality between men and women and to alter the negative perceptions about women in our society. It is imperative that we provide our women with platforms and opportunities to become actively involved in the socio-economic transformation of our country.
Let our thoughts also be with the plight of those women across Africa for it is these women and their children who find themselves caught between conflicts that are precipitated by power struggles.
In the context of the global escalation of food and other living costs, government acknowledges that as heads of households and caregivers, women and children bear the brunt of poverty and economic hardships.
In order to address the scourge of poverty, we have already started to implement an integrated and comprehensive poverty strategy. Moreover, through our War against poverty programme, we are bringing together different departments to stem the tide against poverty and underdevelopment in a holistic manner. Engaging in poverty alleviation programmes that impact on improved quality of life of our citizens through mainstreaming gender issues in our programme of action and budgeting processes.
This is an important reality to consider as we redouble our efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals, especially reducing poverty and hunger. The link between the poverty and gender inequality is especially critical in a world characterized by increasing conflict and violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Conflict and the scourge of HIV/AIDS are a major source of poverty, and poverty in turn breeds conflict, creating a vicious circle of violence.
Government’s Expanded Public Works Programme is increasing the number of women in small- to medium-scale construction; training as early childhood practitioners and community-based care workers. More and more women are taking up economic opportunities created through the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa’s Second Economy programmes to improve their skills for a better life.
We will continue to work with our social partners to promote the economic empowerment of women through access to finance and fast-tracking of skills development at all levels. One needs also to focus on providing access to credit and finance as a way to enhance women's asset ownership and saving.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we surge ahead to achieve our strategic goals of basic service delivery, sustainable economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation, the plight of women shall adequately receive attention
To every woman in every part of the Northern Cape - thank you for your strength, your energy and your commitment to building a better life for our people. Women's Day is a day that we as women should commemorate and celebrate with pride and dignity.
As the Provincial Government of the Northern Cape ,we will continue in our efforts to empower women because, we understand that by empowering women, we empower a nation.
Programme director, may this statue serve as a beacon of the new morality that must emerge strong if we are to bring lasting improvements in the lives of our people especially women.
May it impress upon us that the greatest homage we can pay to Frances Baard and many other Heroines who have sacrificed their lives, is to work together for peaceful and prosperous societies based on the principles of justice and equity to which they dedicated their lives.
Let’s build the country of our children and stop taking pity on ourselves.
It will now be my privilege to unveil the Frances Baard Statue
I thank you.
Ke a leboga