Women's Month Speech 2015

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms. Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the Women’s Month Celebrations, 10 August 2015, Batlharos stadium, Kuruman

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
Mayors and Councilors
Distinguished guests
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

This is a very historic year for our country and province in particular as we mark the coming of age of our nation emerging from the shadow of apartheid and also the 61th milestone of extraordinary women who fought for our democracy.

The commemoration and celebrations of Women’s day in South Africa should be viewed as a very important victory for women’s emancipation in our country and the African continent as a whole. The 9th August was declared by the democratic government to recognise the role played by the heroic march of 1956 lead by women of all races and class during Apartheid South Africa. The commitment of ordinary women to improve the lives of their children was evident in the sheer determination that was displayed during the mobilization towards the march and the march itself.

Women also recognised that the emancipation of women and the attainment of freedom and democracy will not fall from the sky but will be achieved through hard work and fighting the oppressive regime. During this year we lost a remarkable woman, Ma Ruth Mompati, who was part of the organizing of women from this part of the country to participate in the historic march against unjust pass laws of that time.

The women of the period of 1950 and the gallant fighters that was part of the 1976 youth uprising had a common task to dismantle the Apartheid government. We include those young women of 1976 because too often the role that young women played during that period is forgotten. Allow me to quote an African American Abolitionist Fredrick Douglas that said “We know better that freedom is hard work, there can be no crops without ploughing the ground, you cannot want rain and not expect thunder and lightning, you cannot have the oceans without its awful rivers”

This is highly appropriate for the current historic context that I just alluded to, the ploughing of the ground in this quotation refers to the time when Charlotte Maxeke and her peers lead the way to establish the ANCWL and the crops relates to the fact that we have a South Africa that recognized that women are equal to men.

Today 61 years on, as we celebrate the remarkable contribution of the women of 1956 that laid the foundation for our socio-economic freedom, we take stock of our achievements; fully aware of the challenges that still lie ahead. We stand proud as a nation and women in particular to have Nkozazana Dlamini- Zuma as the chair of the African Union Commission, more than 40 percent of our national cabinet is women and the Northern Cape Province has had 3 women Premier’s in the past 20years.

The rain of opportunities refers to women’s active participation in the economy, women making taking up senior positions in government and private sector was as a result of the thunder and lightning of the heroic march of 1956 lead by Lillian Ngoyi, Sophia Williams De Bruyn, Helen Jospeh and Rahima Moosa.

The might and splendor of the oceans we are talking about represents the fact that more young girls are in school than before, more young girls are the top performers in math’s and science; young women are obtaining tertiary qualifications and accessing jobs that lift families and communities out of poverty and all this was made possible by the sacrifices of the awful rivers that represent the combatants of MK, like Ruth Mompati, Mittah Seperepere and many more.

In 2015; we as the progressive women of South Africa and the Northern Cape celebrate Women’s day under the theme “Women united in moving South Africa forward.” This year’s Women’s Month is taking place against the backdrop of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and the Women’s Charter in 2014. Furthermore, the African Union has prioritised women empowerment by declaring 2015 as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063.”

Die Noordkaap Provinsie is ‘n redelike jong provinsie en in terme van die bevolking is die meerderheid hiervan vroue. Dit beteken dus dat die driedubbele bedreiging van ongelykheid, armoede en werkloosheid tref vrouens die hardste in die provinsie. Die bevordering van geslagsgelykheid en die bemagtiging van vroue is daarom sentraal tot hierdie ANC-regering se pogings om armoede te bekamp en volhoubare ontwikkeling te stimuleer. As 'n regering sal ons verseker dat meer jong meisies befondsing kry om aan tersiêre instellings te studeer en dat hulle geleenthede in indiensopleiding in beide die regering en die private sektore kry.

Die bemagtiging van jong vroue is van kardinale belang om te verseker dat die wanbalanse wat deur Apartheid geskep is uitgewus word. Die feit dat meer hulpbronne beskikbaar gestel moet word aan bemagtiging van die meisiekind is hoog op die agenda van 'n ontwikkelinde regering soos ons s’n. Dit kom dus as geen verassing dat die top presterende leerders in graad 12 vir die afgelope twee jaar agtereenvolgend meisies was.

We are unapologetic for the fact that we want more women to be involved in economic activity in the province. The relaunching of the Mme Re Ka Thusa trust fund ensured that we created a provincial vehicle that will assist women to develop and grow small and medium size businesses to empower themselves and lift their families out of poverty. This past year alone, much-needed funding has been distributed to women owned business throughout the province. Just a few days ago we announced the female entrepreneur in the agriculture sector. The hosting of this event every year indicates the growth of women in this sector and we want to congratulate the winners in all categories.

Recently we hosted Imbizo’s with the Department of Mineral Resources and one of the key issues is still the marginalization of women in the mining sector and this will have to be addressed soon. The major planned retrenchment in the mining sector will compound the misery already faced by women in the province. We therefore urge this sector to take into account the effect that this will have on households that are led by women in this province. The old saying still remains relevant that states to empower a women means you empower a nation.

As the leader of this provincial government I am aware of the many social challenges faced by women of this province. The abuse of alcohol and increase in Foetal Alcohol Syndrome cases in the province; that impacts more severely on women as the ultimate protector of the family. We again call on all employers that still use some elements of the dop system to stop this practice. Women should act more responsibly in taking care of unborn children that God has entrusted us with.

The high illiteracy rate amongst women must be eradicated and a dedicated programme must be implemented by the Vocational Education Training centres and other skills development institutions in the province.  The 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign in the province must make more of an impact on the lives of women living in rural areas. Even more support should be provided to victim empowerment centres in the province to protect the vulnerable of society.

Having said this, ladies and gentlemen, the struggle for freedom and equality continues for women beyond equal participation. These struggles touch at the very core of the rights of women in our country and demands strong action, not only from women, but also from all South Africans.

We call on society to draw inspiration from the legacy of the brave women who defied the apartheid state. Their hopes and dreams lives on in today's generation of women who will move South Africa forward.


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