- President Cyril Ramaphosa has reflected on the progress of the fight for gender equality
- The politician admits that in South Africa the progress has been 'uneven'
- The answer to this continued struggle is economic freedom for female citizens, says Ramaphosa
After the world celebrated International Women's Day this weekend, President Cyril Ramaphosa has turned his attention to the struggle towards achieving gender equality.
While Ramaphosa admits that progress in this regard has been 'uneven' in SA, he noted in a statement that:
"We have made significant advances in improving the lives of our country’s women in the social, political and economic spheres. We have advanced the rights of women and improved their representation in nearly all spheres.We have implemented policies and programmes to give practical expression to the rights of women and girls to education, to reproductive health care, to basic services, and to social support. We have several gender-responsive laws around reproductive health, sexual orientation, access to justice, customary law, and protection against domestic and sexual violence."
But the president admits that there are vast discrepancies between the protection offered by law and what female citizens experience:
"In South Africa, as in many other parts of the world, women continue to bear the brunt of poverty and unemployment. They are less likely to own a business, less likely to be employed, less likely to be promoted."
Ramaphosa called for a focus on economic inclusion for women, something he insists will pave the way forward:
"Economic inclusion is essential not only for advancing gender equality, but in fundamentally changing the living conditions of women. It enables them to take greater control over their lives. It also makes them less vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation."
This empowerment will allow women the ability to fully control their own destinies, according to the president:
"The women of South Africa and of the continent must be liberated from the shackles of patriarchy and oppression, but most of all they must be given the means to improve their material condition. It is only when women have their own means, when they can earn their own income, when they have assets to call their own, when they have skills and capabilities, then they are able to fully control their destinies."
However, this may not be so easy to achieve in the midst of a technical recession. Briefly.co.za reported that Ramaphosa had listed load-shedding, a slump in the agricultural sector and flagging consumer confidence for the poor growth.
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