Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini Picture: ANA
Parliament - Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini says girls in primary and secondary schools will soon receive free sanitary towels.

For seven years, the ANC-led government has promised women free sanitary towels, but has still not delivered.

Former president Jacob Zuma told ANC supporters in Polokwane, Limpopo, on January 8, 2011, that free sanitary towels would be provided to all women.

Dlamini said: “Pads must be free for school kids. Children now start menstruating at the age of nine. It's young children, let's start with something we are going to win.

"We must start with children and we will go gradually."

Dlamini was addressing Parliament's Multiparty Women's Caucus for the first time since her appointment.

She briefed the caucus on her plans to implement the SA Integrated Programme of Action Addressing Violence Against Women and Children.

Dlamini said her term in office would be dedicated to rooting out patriarchy and empowering women.

“We need a strong gender machinery because we are still in a patriarchal country and for us to be able to work on issues of gender equality and women emancipation, you need a strong structure that is going to include organs of civil society, to ensure that we become the voice of women.”

Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor, who was also in attendance at the caucus, cautioned Dlamini to also focus on the leadership of women and equity within the executive.

“There are problematic aspects in this department that should be distinguished or focused upon: the promotion and achievement of gender equity.

"We need some form of a gender-scale assessment to assess where we are.

"For example, as the government changed, I did a count on whether we are maintaining the level of women in executives.

"I am not sure if we're doing that enough. We have maintained the 40% plus but it is not good enough,” said Pandor.

Political Bureau