Women's Day | President announces GBV, economic interventions

JOHANNESBURG - The ongoing issues of gender-based violence and economic inequality have featured strongly in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Women’s Day address.

READ: Participants of 1956 women's march to be honoured

Ramaphosa has announced the launch of a women’s economic assembly and says progress has been made regarding gender-based violence.

But is enough being done?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that women have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When growth at, an economic level, stalls, when development is halted, and when the economy loses jobs we know that it is women who bear the brunt disproportionately.” 

A new initiative to be launched during Women’s Month hopes to tackle inequality in key sectors.  

“A women economic assembly will be launched later this month to identify supply chain opportunities for women-owned business in key industries such as steel, automotive, and energy sectors,” Ramaphosa said. 

In the last year, Ramaphosa says strides have been made in the fight against gender-based violence.  

“32 regional courts have been designated as sexual offences courts in various parts of the country. Around 3500 family violence, child protection and sexual offences investigating officers have received specialised training to do their work.” 

The president also brought attention to the economic empowerment of women in his letter, "the economic empowerment of women is one of the pillars of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) to combat gender-based violence and femicide launched last year. It recognises that unless the economic drivers of gender-based violence are overcome, women and girls will remain vulnerable to abuse."

"As men, let us step up to our responsibilities to our children and our families. Let us not withhold financial support as a means of punishment or use it as a means of control over the women in our lives or our children."

He said, "we cannot achieve gender equality without economic emancipation. I call on all sectors of society to take ownership of the NSP and embed it into their work. We have the blueprint; let us now work together on its implementation."

But is this enough?

The University of Johannesburg’s Lisa Vetten says we are hearing more of the same commitments we have heard in years before.  

Vetten said, “we have yet to see the Department of Human Settlements say how it is going to tackle the housing instability and lack of housing that women face that keeps them dependent on men who are abusive towards them. We have yet to see any kind of recognition of perhaps how do we restructure the economy. So it is all very well creating opportunities for women in small business, but you have to take into account the fact that our economy is built on women care work.” 

Until the various projects yield solid results, they’ll continue to be mere promises delivered annually from the government.  


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