Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the national strategic plan, launched to tackle gender-based violence (GBV), has made great strides – with 32 regional courts being designated as sexual offences courts.
The plan was launched just as the coronavirus hit the country. It has six pillars aimed at dealing with GBV, sexual offences and the empowerment of women.
The government had allocated more than R21 billion towards achieving the goals set out in the plan for a three-year period, the president said.
Ramaphosa, while giving a virtual address on Monday to mark Women's Day, said the plan had made measurable progress.
Its other successes so far have been the training of 3 500 family violence, child protection and sexual offence investigating officers, who have received special training.
He said 12 public buildings have also been transformed into shelters. The president said work had been done to ensure all police stations in the country have access to sexual evidence kits.
"Key legislation around domestic violence, bail and the sentencing of offenders, as well as broadening the scope of sexual offences, and other matters, is currently before Parliament.
"Our courts are handing down harsh penalties and sentences to those found guilty of GBV and conviction rates in sexual offences cases have improved," Ramaphosa said.
The Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Fund, which was launched earlier this year, has received R141 million in pledges, Ramaphosa said.
He called on the private sector to continue making pledges towards the fund. The fund aims to assist the government in achieving its national strategic plan to tackle the GBV scourge.
Another aspect of the national strategic plan was to ensure economic and financial opportunities were created for women. Ramaphosa called on the private sector to join the pledge made by the government – that 40% of public procurement should go to women-run or women-owned businesses.
"A Women’s Economic Assembly will be launched later this month to identify the supply chain opportunities for women-owned businesses in key industries such as steel, automotive and energy sectors.
"Work is under way to develop a financial inclusion policy to address the barriers experienced by women-owned businesses and low-income earners to access credit, to also access grants and other financial transactions," he said.
Ramaphosa said the government was also working on ensuring that the economic relief packages benefit women, as they have found it harder to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.