NCOP Budget Speech 2011/12 by Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana
21 Jun 2011
It is a great honour for me to present the Budget Vote of the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities to the National Council of Provinces.
The core-function of our department is the mainstreaming of gender, disability and children’s rights considerations into all programmes of government and the rest of society. We are responsible for monitoring and evaluating and coordination of programmes for protection and promotion of rights of the three sectors.
While we monitor gender, disability and children’s rights considerations in all the 12 outcome areas of government, the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities has been assigned to support the attainment of at least three of these outcomes.
Long and healthy life for all South Africans
Support an inclusive growth path
And an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship
Chairperson, poverty continues to bear a disproportionately female face. Maternal and child mortality are at a high level and women are more likely to be infected with HIV and affected by AIDS than men. We are working with the Department of Health to ensure that government delivers on this key outcome area of a long and healthy life for all South Africans. We support the HIV testing initiative as well as the programme for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV to create an HIV free generation.
During the National Children’s day in North West, we launched the Sanitary Dignity campaign which seeks to mobilise resources for delivery of sanitary towels to girl learners, indigent women and children with disabilities. We cannot allow girl children from indigent households to continue to miss more than 40 days of learning in each academic year because of lack of access to sanitary towels.
We are also working with the Department of Health and other partners in the private sector in increasing access to assistive devices. These devices are essential for independent living and participation in social and economic activities by people with disabilities.
On the second outcome, which is inclusive economic growth, we are focusing on the economic empowerment for women and people with disabilities.
Chairperson, I recently visited Voorspoed Mine in Kroonstad, Free State. This mine, owned by De Beers, is headed by a young black woman, Mpumi Zikalala, who is a general manager and it employs about 370 people. This mine has achieved 2% employment equity target for people with disabilities and 35% for women in various positions including technical posts involved in the extraction of diamond. My view is that if a mine in rural Free State can achieve such progress by recruiting and training local matriculants, all other sectors of our economy can achieve the targets we have set on gender and disability representation.
We have made progress as a country on the representation of women in the legislative and executive arms of government. However in many other sectors, women remain severely underrepresented. As I reported to the National Assembly, women constitute less than 10% of (Chief Executive Officers) CEOs and chairpersons of boards of companies listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). They only hold less than 16% of directorship and 21% of executive management positions.
We are consulting on the Gender Equality Bill which will provide us with legislative authority to hasten the empowerment of women and the attainment of the 50/50 gender parity. The final Draft Bill will be submitted to Cabinet for approval by March 2012. The enactment of the Gender Equality Bill will lead to systemic improvements for women and facilitate the attainment of gender equality.
Chairperson, last month we convened a national Rural Women’s Summit in Limpopo. Representatives of women from all provinces outlined the challenges facing them as lack of access to land and water. Those who have secured land want developmental finance and access to market for their produce. They also want skills development programmes that will enable them to achieve sustainable livelihood where they live. We will be working with Departments of Rural Development and Land Affairs as well as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to ensure that these aspirations of women are integrated into the rural development strategy for the country.
Development of rural women will be a key focus of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) next year and as a country we have to present a coherent strategy through which we are addressing the challenges facing women in the rural areas. We have finalised the report on this year’s UNCSW which focused primarily on access to education and training; science and technology and decent work for women. The report summarises the engagements we had at this meeting and the implications for South Africa.
Chairperson, we are very concerned with the continued failure to advance towards the target of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities. The report of the Employment Equity Commission for the year 2010 indicates our country only had 0.9% of employees being people with disabilities. They constituted 0.6% in the public sector while the private sector had 1%.
We have to encourage the private sector to continue to increase the number of employees with disabilities. Within government, we will monitor the progress of each department towards the attainment of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities. Each department or sphere of government is going to be held accountable for this target.
To respond to other developmental challenges facing people with disabilities, the department will focus on improving access to education through the promotion of the implementation of the inclusive education policy. We will also be conducting an audit of all special schools in the country. This audit will inform appropriate interventions that have to be made to enhance the learning environment for children using these facilities.
The department will also implement the National Accessibility Campaign which focuses on reasonable accommodation at the work place, public transport and access to information and assistive devices.
We will also convene a National Summit on Disability during this financial year to agree on the implementation plan for the domestication of United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and finalise the draft National Disability Policy that will strengthen our collaborative efforts to address the challenges facing people with disabilities.
Chairperson, the third outcome area is development of an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship. This is an area where we need massive mobilisation of all sectors of our society and an outreach to all the nine provinces of our country.
Our country faces a serious crisis of violence against women and children. We have children being dumped in dustbins while women, young and old, are falling victims of rape and murder. The right to sexual orientation as stipulated in our Constitution is also being violated through the so-called corrective rape of lesbian women.
The challenge of violence against women and children was further highlighted when we presented the report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women in Geneva earlier this year. While our country was commended for progress in the representation of women in political decision making positions, access to education for girls and our response to HIV and AIDS, gender based violence and child abuse were identified as the main area of concern.
Acknowledging the magnitude and complexity of the factors driving this scourge of violence, we will be establishing an advisory council comprising of key government departments, civil society organisations and other relevant partners. This advisory council is going to coordinate the implementation of the 365 Days National Plan of Action to end violence against women and children.
Our country has a strong legislative framework protecting the rights of children and as the department, we are going to monitor the implementation of all these laws including the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act.
We also recently concluded yet another successful Child Protection Week in partnership with the Department of Social Development. In this week we mobilised communities to work with government in curbing the abuse of children. Some key activities for this week included the national launch of the Early Childhood Development programme which took place in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga and the launch of the Strategy on Children Living in the Street in Bloemfontein, Free State.
For us to carry out all of these tasks, we have to strengthen our internal capacity and build strong relations with all spheres of government and partners from various sectors. We have over the past seven months made much progress on building the capacity of this department.
We appointed a Director-General and Deputy Director-General responsible for disability and children’s rights and Deputy Director-General: Corporate Affairs. We are recruiting the Deputy Director-General responsible for women empowerment and gender equality. Other key appointments already made include the Chief Financial Officer, heads of research, legal services, international relations and other key Chief Director positions relating to advocacy and mainstreaming as well as capacity building for all the three sectors.
Chairperson, in our liaison with provinces, we are calling upon all Premiers to retain in their offices the special programmes responsible for the Status of Women and the Rights of Children and People with Disabilities. We have started with consultations and we will be going to each province within the next few months to discuss the structural arrangements and other key issues relevant to the three sectors. We are also calling on Mayors in all municipalities to establish special programmes responsible for the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.
In conclusion Chairperson; I would like to thank my colleagues in Cabinet, the chairperson and members of the Select Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities for their untiring support and cooperation.
I also thank all the provinces that work with us in various activities including the hosting of commemorative days relating to women, children and people with disabilities. We will be counting on your support once again as we prepare for the Mandela Month in July which we will dedicate to children and the disability sector. I also hope we will work together to effectively use the Women’s Month in August to highlight the various issues affecting women of our country.
My appreciation goes to the many women’s organisations, children’s rights groups and organisations representing persons with disabilities who have engaged with us in building an entity that can respond to the expectations of our sectors.
We also appreciate the support and enthusiasm of the United Nations agencies in supporting the programmes of the department.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Director-General and the staff of the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities for the dedication in the work of the department and the implementation of our strategic plan as approved by Parliament.
Working together, we can build a fully inclusive society free of unfair discrimination, inequality and abuse.
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities
21 Jun 2011
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