Cyril stands up for women

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Kevin Sutherland/ File photo

SA has failed its women and their constitutional rights‚ President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

He was speaking at the National Women’s Day event in Mbekweni‚ Paarl.

“As a government and as a society‚ since the advent of democracy‚ we have failed to ensure that the women of South Africa are able to exercise their constitutional right to peace and security,” he said.

“In that sense‚ we have failed to live up to the promise of 1994.

“We therefore share the responsibility to correct this failing‚ to work together across society to fundamentally change attitudes‚ to fundamentally change practices and institutions to end abuse of women.”

He said gender-based violence was a crisis – and a war was being waged on women in towns‚ cities‚ homes‚ schools‚ universities‚ streets‚ parks and open spaces.

The face of poverty and suffering is still worn by the women of South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa

“It is a war against women’s bodies‚ their dignity‚ their right to freedom‚ their right to security and equality.

“It is an affront to our common humanity and a betrayal of the values of our constitution,” he said.

“In ways that are both subtle and brutal‚ women are subjected each and every day to verbal as well as emotional and physical abuse.”

For him, the answer lay in education as a means to empower young women.

“Young women face several challenges‚ such as outdated attitudes to the education of women‚ relegation to domestic duties or responsibility for child care.”

Poverty was a burden women carried disproportionately.

“The face of poverty and suffering is still worn by the women of South Africa.

“They are neglected in the provision of government services and are overlooked by the business community.”

He said the government would host a national gender summit on August 31 to discuss gender-based violence.

Shortly after he took to the podium, a small group of protesters disrupted his speech and held up placards with their grievances about land.

He said the government was accelerating land reform to expand agricultural production‚ grow the economy and expand access for women.

“Poor and working class women have the same right‚ and need the same opportunity‚ as men to own property in well-located urban areas,” Ramaphosa said.

“Women are‚ at minimum‚ equal beneficiaries of government programmes to address asset poverty.”

August 9 is recognised as a national public holiday – and the month of August as Women’s Month in SA – to commemorate the 1956 march to the Union Buildings by more than 20‚000 women who resisted the extension of pass laws to African women.

The theme was “100 Years of Albertina Sisulu‚ Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward” as it commemorated the centenaries of Sisulu and the formation of the Bantu Women’s League.