DURBAN - The South African revolution will remain incomplete as long as women are oppressed because of gender discrimination, race and status.
Delivering a keynote address at the International Women’s Day Summit, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said the government’s special focus was for building up capacity for the state to allow for more women to enter and flourish in public service.
The two-day conference themed #BreakTheBias was held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban. Zikalala said the summit was a platform that works “consciously to deepen gender equality struggles and govern efforts towards achieving generational equality no later than 30 years from now”.
“This means we must prioritise gender-sensitive legislation. And prioritise full development notification and protection of women and girls. We are hopeful recommendations and resolutions that emerged from this summit will accelerate our efforts to ensure a KZN that recognises the humanity and the dignity of women,” Zikalala said.
He said a better future relied on economic transformation and fighting inequality.
“It is time for the world to stand up for the rights of women who, wherever there are wars, bear the brunt of all the brutality that comes. The ANC government fully understands the emancipation of women from economic patriarchy and sexism, and all of this must be addressed.”
Zikalala said the “revolution of the country” was to eliminate social contradictions and create a country that was united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous.
Hlengiwe Mavimbela, MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, said the event paved a way for future generations with programmes for them to lead.
“We have to hold hands of those who are less privileged. Lend a hand to them and influence the policies. Complaining about inequality or misrepresentation is not helping, however, coming up with programmes for future leaders is a solution,” Mavimbela said.
Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, an all-women panel discussed a variety of issues pertaining to women’s leadership in businesses, academia, healthcare and other sectors at the Women in Leadership Programme.
Music businesswoman Ayanda Ncwane said women should lead from the front with the burden of caring for their society.
“As women in business, there are people who are attached to our lead. People are going to come to the table with something, and as a leader you have to come with the entire table because you are an opportunity. And that requires one to have a burden, for children inside and outside one’s home, for the community and the employees at the workplace. This means working for the greater good of society,” said Ncwane.
Professor Mmantsae Diale, a physics expert at the University of Pretoria, said there was an urgent need to up-skill women in the sector, which is not unique to South Africa.
“This interactive conference is key in understanding the development and progress we have made in the struggle to have women in the physics and energy sector. In doing so, we will be breaking away from the general perception of having no women in academia. That does not mean we have arrived at our goal. We need to up-skill at every opportunity. We have to start pulling women up to the same level as we are in academia. Take them from a junior researcher to a senior lecturer up until they are professors.
“It takes us giving an opportunity to somebody else, not closing doors to each other,” said Diale.