Address by Limpopo Premier Mr Cassel Mathale during Women’s Day celebration, Seleteng, Ga-Mphahlele Capricorn District
9 Aug 2010
Members of the Executive Council here present
Mayors and executive mayors
MPL’s and MP’s
Speakers and councilors
The leadership of the Progressive Women’s Movement in Limpopo
The leadership of African National Congress Women’s League and other Women formations in the province
Stalwarts and veterans of our liberation struggle
Women of Limpopo
It is always a great pleasure to be afforded this rare opportunity to address women on this day which entirely belongs to them. It cannot be over emphasised in better terms how difficult it is to compare the resilience and determination that was demonstrated by women in the fight for liberation. It is even more difficult to express the gallantry and the caliber of the 1956 generation of women, in the midst of the present generation of women who continue to further the struggle for a better life for all because they can tell the story better.
Today marks 54th anniversary of the historic women’s march on 9 August 1956. On that day woman from all walks of life marched to the then apartheid Pretoria to demand the end of the pass law and all other oppressive legislations.
The march was organised, led and championed by women of our country as part of the broader contribution to the struggle for freedom and democracy. Not only were the architects and sponsors of the apartheid system taken aback by the courageous decision of women on that morning of the 09th August 1956, but the international community was also surprised.
It is worth to note that one of the organizers and leaders of the march, comrade Koko Lilian Ngoyi, was born and bred in this very same area we are meeting today. This area also offered to the struggle for a free society the late Mr Moses Mphahlele who composed one of the verses of our National Anthem, Morena Boloka Setshaba Sa Gesu. This is a clear affirmation of the fact that this area is not a stranger to the liberation struggle for it offered immensely to our cause for freedom.
The liberation movement knew that with the womenfolk at the frontline of the war against the apartheid system, the journey towards a free and democratic South Africa was real and alive. Indeed, from that moment onwards, more pressure was exerted against the system from all corners of the liberation front and it did not come as a surprise when the regime banned the African National Congress and other formations four years later in 1960.
Women refused to be demobilised by the banning order, but rather intensified the thrust for freedom, by joining the internal underground movement, Umkhonto we Sizwe structures, and whilst others proceeded to mobilise the international community to rally behind the liberation movement by, amongst others, isolating the apartheid regime and all its cronies. Women have always come forth to be counted amongst the history makers and they continue to play that role until today. The dedication of this month to women is informed by the brave resistance they demonstrated in the fight for a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.
This year we are celebrating this month of women under the theme: “Working together for equal opportunities and progress for women: forward to the decade of African women” In line with the message of the theme, we are also expected to pay homage to all women around our Continent who continue to be subjected to the brutal consequences of the civil wars and other forms of international crimes. We are welcoming the decision by the international community to regard sexual abuses of women and brutal treatment of children as a crime against humanity, which the perpetrators thereof must be prosecuted and punished irrespective of their positions in government or private sector.
We must remember and salute the women of Africa who are living in refugee camps and who have been displaced by the internal conflicts in their respective countries, most of whom continue to run with children behind their backs, with no food, water, clothes, shoes and sanitation facilities. These women have no ownership of anything and they neither understand nor stand to benefit from the internal conflicts which so greatly affect them. Our theme could not have come at the right time than when we are marking the 10th year review of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals as well as the African continent’s “Unite to End Violence against Women Campaign”. We must use this month to assess the achievements registered in pursuance of the objectives and targets of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
This year, we are also marking 30th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and we are also commemorating 10th Anniversary of the adoption of Optional Protocol to this Convention.
Although, our country might have registered great strides in ensuring that the status of women is changed for the better, unfortunately, this cannot be said about many women of our continent. We have a Constitution that assertively promulgates the spirit of equality amongst people regardless of their gender. Furthermore, we have enacted various legislations which seek to actualise the objectives of the Constitution. The Women’s Empowerment Fund and the Employment Equity Act continues to broaden opportunities for women to gain entrance to the leadership positions in both government and commercial sector. We should also dedicate this celebration to women who continue to endure the harshness of poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment. In the same vein, we must also pledge solidarity with women farmworkers, domestic workers and women casual workers who continue to be victims of labour exploitation and harassment.
Day in and day out, women and children are victims of ruthless criminal actions which are perpetrated against them without any reason whatsoever. We must act together with the law enforcement agencies to identify those who are perpetrating criminal deeds against the vulnerable members of our society in particular women and children.
We should pay tribute to women and children who fall victim of criminal actions and vow to do all in our power and within the boundaries of the law to even the score of their ordeal by bringing the wrongdoers to justice. It should be our task to create a Limpopo that is free from criminal actions.
One of the central aims of the Limpopo Employment, Growth and Development Plan is to create decent job opportunities for women, and also bring women to the mainstream of the economy and development in the province. Through the Expanded Public Works Programme, we have been able to create job opportunities for women whilst at the same time enhancing their skills.
We are also funding many women cooperatives in agriculture as part of our efforts to break the cycle of poverty amongst women. The expansion of mining activities and infrastructure development in the province has also made enormous contribution to the issue of women empowerment. Our comprehensive rural development programme is another initiative in the direction of improving the living standard of women in the province.
Despite the fact that we have introduced many pieces of policies and projects which are aimed at liberating women from social sufferings, a lot is still outstanding. One of the major sustainable interventions that must be pursued in resolving the legacy of social imbalances is through the opening of the doors of learning for all. Education is one of the strategic tools that must be employed to redress the legacy of gender imbalances.
As a society, we continue to have an obligation to move together in this journey of building an equal South Africa, which belongs to all who live in it, just like we did in 1963 during the Rivonia Trial, just like we did in 1955 during the formulation of the Freedom Charter, as we did in 1956 during the women march, most of all, as we did in 1994 during the first democratic elections. In this decade we are once more called upon to accelerate the process of making a meaningful change in the lives of women of Limpopo in particular and the country in general.
Our being at this venue today is owed to the outstanding women of unparalleled bravery who made and continues to make valuable impact in the struggle for women emancipation and a better life for all. We salute comrade Lilian Ngoyi, Victoria Mxenge, Ruth First, Ray Alexander, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Ida Mtwana, Dorothy Nyembe, Ivy Gcina, Albertina Sisulu, Florence Mophoso, Ruth Mompati, Gertrude Shope, Adelaide Tambo, Mitah Sperepere, Frances Baard, Helen Joseph, Josephine Moshobane, Dora Tamana, Ellen Khuzwayo, Marie-Stella Sexwale Mabitjie, Tracy Malatjie, Mantobazana Msimang and many others. These women, together with many others, have been an inspiration to people of all gender in the struggle for freedom and women emancipation. It is a mountainous assignment to eradicate the legacy that has been deeply rooted in the society since time immemorial. But we remain firmly committed to the cause of designing a nation, wherein men and women live as equal partners.
Working together, we can do more. Victory is certain!
“igama la makosikazi"
Happy Women’s Day
Source: Limpopo Provincial Government
Issued by: Limpopo Office of the Premier
9 Aug 2010
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