Ramaphosa sets date for national gender summit amid ‘crisis’
The South African government will convene a national gender summit on August 31 in an attempt to find a solution to "the crisis" of the rise of violence against women in the country.
This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa who was addressing a Women's Day celebration in Paarl in the Western Cape on Thursday.
Ramaphosa said "the brutal and subtle war against women" in the country had reached "unprecedented levels".
“A war is being waged against the women of South Africa. It is a war against women’s bodies‚ their dignity‚ their right to freedom‚ their right to security and equality. It is an affront to our common humanity and a betrayal to the values of our Constitution.”
To this end‚ a conversation on how to resolve the problem was of utmost importance to also help government formulate appropriate policies to mitigate the scourge.
The president said all men should take responsibility for patriarchy and the oppression of women that had become the defining feature of the land.
"Since the advent of democracy‚ we have failed to ensure that the women of South Africa are able to exercise their constitutional right to peace and security‚" said Ramaphosa.
It was now high time for men and women in all spheres of life to join forces in correcting this failure.
This was why Ramaphosa had heeded the call for the national gender summit which he said was a suggestion by women rights groups that had submitted a memorandum to his office in the Union Buildings.
Said Ramaphosa: "I am here today to say that the government has agreed that this national gender summit should take place on August 31 to forge consensus on appropriate approaches that should be taken on an urgent basis to deal with the crisis of gender-based violence‚ discrimination against women and gender disparities.
"The recommendations of the national gender summit must be comprehensive and minister of women in the presidency and guide the work of government and activities of all stakeholders."
The government would use these recommendation to bring about policies that would "ultimately eradicate violence against women"‚ said Ramaphosa.
According to Ramaphosa‚ all would be in vain without change of attitude and some cultural practises to conscientise men that it was their responsibility to protect and respect women.
Speaking at the same event‚ minister of women in the presidency and ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini said current laws did not favour women.
Moreover‚ said Dlamini‚ society and institutions were going about addressing violence against women the wrong way in that all were "reactive instead of pro-active".
Said Dlamini: "Our children are killed every day. We demand the government to respond to the issues of violence against women.
"Without the buy-in of the leadership‚ women are going to continue living under the chains of patriarchy. Women are not begging to exist and we are here to stay as carriers of the nation."
August 9 is recognised as a national public holiday - and the month of August as Women’s Month in South Africa - to commemorate the 1956 march to the Union Buildings by more than 20‚000 women who resisted the extension of pass laws to African women.
The theme this year is “100 Years of Albertina Sisulu‚ Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward” as it commemorates the centenaries of Sisulu and the formation of the Bantu Women’s League.
- Additional reporting by Nico Gous