The struggle for women’s rights must continue

James Masango MPL

DA Chief Whip in the Mpumalanga Legislature

The following is an address as delivered to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature today, during the snap debate on International Women’s Day.

Honourable Speaker on 08 March 2012 the world will be celebrating International Women’s Day, while in South Africa we celebrate our women on 09 August.

I am told that International Women’s Day was first celebrated in March 1911. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1975 proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. This is a day when women are recognised for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

The UN theme for 2012 is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures”.

In South Africa we can now say that in theory, women now enjoy a broader scope of opportunities than they have previously. They are well protected by the Constitution against sexism and violence and guaranteed equality, human dignity, and the right to participate in elections.

The problem in South Africa is that the majority of women in the rural areas are still subjected to abuse, discrimination and some cultural practices that are now in actual fact being misused, much like “ukuthwala” still being used in the Eastern Cape. Not enough has been done with regard to these barbaric practices. The law still has to take its course in this regard.

Unemployment is another major contributor to the terrible plight of women in rural areas through poverty and inequalities that they found themselves in today. Drastic economic empowerment of women in the rural areas is urgently required for them to realise similar freedoms enjoyed by women in townships.

It is the daily struggle endured by so many women in South Africa which we must remember on this International Women’s Day. Those of you who form part of the fortunate few beneficiaries of the struggle for equal rights must remember on 08 March that freedom is indivisible, and women’s rights are human rights. Until all the women of this country are all able to taste the fruits of freedom, the struggle must continue.

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