Lift glass ceiling, warns Zuma
Private companies that do not have women as directors and executive managers will soon face penalties, President Jacob Zuma said on Women's Day yesterday.
The government would amend the Employment Equity Act to bring about equal pay between the sexes for work of equal value, he said.
Speaking to thousands of women on the lawns of the Union Buildings, Zuma said representation of women at top management level in the public sector remained "inadequate".
He had ordered Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana to speed up the passage of the Gender Equality Bill, which if enacted would enforce gender parity across all sectors of society.
"The census revealed that, though there is a slight increase in the employment of women in top executive positions, this increase is minimal.
"What is more disturbing is that there are still companies that have a zero percentage of women as directors and executive managers," Zuma said.
Experience had shown that "voluntary mechanisms of gender equality" were inadequate.
Zuma said his government had increased the number of women in senior positions both at national and provincial level.
There are 14 female cabinet ministers and 15 deputy ministers. At provincial level, five of the nine premiers are women.
Zuma said corporate boardrooms had been slow to follow the example of the government.
Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, newly elected chairman of the African Union Commission, joined thousands yesterday in a symbolic march to the Union Buildings to honour women.
The ANC Women's League said patriarchy still threatened to undermine the huge gains made by women.
"These gains and equalities need to go beyond the paper they are printed on and filter down to women on the ground."
Zuma said last year's report of the Commission for Employment Equity indicated that more work had to be done to improve the representation of people with disabilities at top and senior management levels in both the private and public sectors.
Zuma, who was accompanied by his second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli, also touched on the education crisis in Limpopo and Eastern Cape, saying the government would do its best to "reverse current difficulties and deliver quality education in these provinces".
The Women's Day celebrations kicked off with the unveiling of the women's memorial site at Lillian Ngoyi Square, in the Pretoria CBD.
Ngoyi was a leader of the 1956 women's march to the Union Buildings.
An R108-million women's multipurpose monument comprising an early childhood development centre and a training institute is to be built on the site.