Women’s issues under the magnifying glass

Sharna Fernandez, MPP

Western Cape Provincial Parliament

In commemoration of Women’s Day, a Speaker’s Debate took place during the sitting of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. The event, initiated by the Speaker Sharna Fernandez, focused on the topic of Substance abuse and domestic violence: the rights, role and contribution of women in the Western Cape.

In the morning, prior to the debate, the Speaker lead a panel discussion attended by approximately 100 women from across the province. Panellists included: Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Mireille Wenger, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Community Safety; René Botha, Programme for the Victim Empowerment Unit of the Western Cape Department of Social Development; Fatima Isaacs, programme manager for Substance Abuse at the Western Cape Department of Social Development;  Damaris Kiewiets, Community Liaison Officer at the University of the Western Cape; Kerryn Rehse from the NGO Mosaic, Sarah Fisher, Executive Director of the NGO SMART and Matric Institute on Addiction; Colonel Paulse and Captain Fink from the South Africa Police Service, Chantelle Pepper, Substance Abuse Specialist in the Ministry of Social Development. The event was ably facilitated by Melissa Koff from the Ministry of Social Development. Panellists made presentations on issues such as the Domestic Violence Act, the role of South African Police Service (SAPS) in domestic violence cases and the procedure that needs to be followed. The non-governmental (NGO) sector also explained their role in society with regards to their services and linkages with government.

‘The overall outcome of the panel debate was a great success. This platform gave many women the opportunity to educate themselves, access information and open vital communication links with the Department of Social Development, Parliament, the NGO sector and SAPS,’ says Koff. ‘Being given the opportunity to facilitate the panel was a great pleasure. Many thanks to Speaker Sharna Fernandez and her team for organizing such a well put together discussion’.