Speech delivered by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize
on the occasion of the commemoration of Women's Day
9 Aug 2011
Today is a very special day for the Republic of South Africa, as we have come together to celebrate the heroic role played by women of this country.
These women did not stop playing their part when this country was liberated, but continue to be involved in many aspects of uplifting communities, caring for the weak and defenseless, and continuing to be pillars of strength for their families.
Violence against women
However, as we celebrate here today, let us take a moment to remember the many women who have been victim to domestic violence, perpetrated by their partners – the ones who are supposed to be their protectors.
As a province, and the country, let us stand together to condemn the recent murders of women, who were either police officers or whose partners were police officers.
This kind of violence cannot be allowed to continue, and the perpetrators of such acts need to face the full might of the law.
For almost every case of violence against a woman, a man is involved and for this reason, we need to have a strong programme to address the male perception of women’s rights.
When we talk about women’s rights, some men think this means their emasculation or disempowerment. This is not true, because all nations that prosper can only achieve this through mutual respect and working together of both men and women.
To this end, the Provincial Men’s Forum led by the Office of the Premier in partnership with Ukhozi FM hosted a variety of activities to mark July as Men’s Month.
District Men’s Dialogues, targeting 1 000 men took place in 10 District Municipalities to solicit the voice of men throughout the Province in preparation for the Imbizo.
The District Dialogues unpacked the theme under the following sub-themes: Manhood and Gender Equity; Men and Social Ills and Men and Health. The Theme for the Men’s Month was “Injobo Enhle Ithungelwa Ebandla: Sukuma Sakhe”.
A Provincial Crime Prevention Forum, which includes all relevant stakeholders as well as communities, was established in 2007 to enhance the government’s fight against violence.
As a result, the Department of Community Safety and Liaison launched the Volunteer Social Crime Prevention Project early in 2008. These initiatives are aimed at ensuring integrated responses and engagement of communities by law enforcement agencies specifically focused on the early detection of crime and the prevention of domestic violence and rape. Particular attention was paid to the fight against xenophobia.
Some of the main initiatives undertaken by the South African Police Service to combat domestic violence and rape are:
The partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Sexual and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit are sustained to develop proactive interventions to address issues which will circumvent the occurrence of cases being rejected through the judicial system due to procedural errors on the side of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The Social Crime Prevention Unit of the SAPS is currently instrumental within the Provincial Project Oversight Committee (POC), towards addressing all matters regarding sexual offences. The POC is in the process of establishing a special core task team commissioned to facilitate the establishment of Local Project Oversight Committees. These structures will deal with those matters which are most critical towards ensuring conviction of offenders and addressing the precipitating factors.
Substantial resources have been committed towards increasing the delivery capacity in respect of domestic violence at all stations and the 28 cluster stations.The province has further been able to offer coordination, facilitation and technical support in respect of 104 projects aimed at addressing crimes against women involving 122 stakeholders, thereby reaching 76 500 people.
Provision of water
This year’s focus is to ensure the economic empowerment of women as a key to uplifting communities, and linked to that is government’s efforts to improve the lives of women, particularly those in rural areas.
Women in rural areas are not only care-givers for their families, but have an added burden of ensuring the availability of such amenities as water and firewood for cooking.
Government has made great progress in taking away this burden through the electrification programme and the provision of clean water to rural families.
For instance the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is installing three water purification units, which extract Jozini Dam water from the canals on the Makhatini flats to provide water to the households in Umkhanyakude District.
In addition to this, the corridor between Swaziland and Shemula is being provided with water through the Jozini-Ingwavuma Water Scheme.
The eastern portion of Zululand District is also benefitting from Jozini Dam through the Mandlakazi Water Scheme.
The department has made an allocation of R56 million for the Jozini-Ngwavuma Water Scheme which commenced in the 2009/10 financial year and the first phase of the project will be completed in September 2011.
The recommended scheme provides for the construction of a package water treatment plant plus minor bulk supply mains and high lift pump station, infrastructure in 12 zones plus construction of the main abstraction works and regional Water Treatment Works.
Economic development of women
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism is working closely with Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) in ensuring that they are able to prepare business plans together with the owner of the business.
Due to a high demand for this service, the department has advertised a tender to get more service providers who can assist entrepreneurs in preparing business plans.
There have been many other initiatives undertaken by government to ensure the economic empowerment of women.
In 2010, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism was able to train women associations such as SAWEN, Waterloo Women’s Association, NAFCOC Women in Construction, South African Women in Construction, KwaZulu-Natal Ladies in Finance and Women in Tourism.
Individual businesses were trained at Empangeni, Richards Bay, eThekwini and Pietermartizburg.
This year, training for Women in Construction has commenced at Empangeni and Ugu with plans for the training of more women throughout KwaZulu-Natal especially in rural areas.
This government has placed education at the forefront of our fight against poverty and lack of skills.
In this regard, government introduced the concept ofno-fee schools and this Province is leading the way in implementation.
The Department of Education has reached an all-time high number of no-fee schools. Last year, there were a total of 3513 no-fee schools and this year, that number has increased by 1226 to 4739 no-fee schools.
This means there were 59% of no-fee schools in the province last year, and this year the number has grown to 79% of schools that are no fee schools. What this means is that KwaZulu-Natal has exceeded the Polokwane Resolution and Millennium Development Goals.
The access to health remains a key issue for women and this government has made it its mission to ensure that women receive the best medical attention, regardless of where in the province they live.
- Maternal mortality ratio: 2008: 224.4 per 100 000 live births and 2010: 170 per 100 000 life births
- PCR positivity at six weeks: 2008 (12% and 2010: 2.8%)
- Child mortality: 2008 : 95 per 1 000 - Medical Research Council (MRC) as cited in the Annual Report and 2010: 8.2% as per in-facility data. Unfortunately there is no population based data
- Infant mortality: 2008 60 per 1 000 - MRC as cited in the Annual Report and 2010: 9.9% per in facility data
- Antiretroviral (ARV) access for all women: 2008 (139 286 on antiretroviral treatment (ART); 85% Nevirapine uptake rate and 2010: 95% of nevirapine (NVP) uptake; 79.3% initiated on HAART ( highly active antiretroviral treatment)
As we celebrate the mothers of our nation, let us all ask ourselves what our role is in the upliftment of our communities.
I thank you.
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier
9 Aug 2011
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