President Jacob Zuma delivering his speech at the Women's Day celebration held at Harry Gwala Multi-Purpose Centre in sasolburg, Free State.09/08/2015 Kopano Tlape GCIS

Sasolburg – Without women working side by side with men, South Africa will not become the prosperous nation envisaged by the preamble of the Constitution, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.

“Also, if we are to succeed economically as a country, women must participate at both the micro and macro levels of the economy,” Zuma told the national Women’s Day celebrations in Sasolburg in the Free State.

“They must not be relegated to micro operations and the informal economy as has been the case.”

Government had reviewed and developed laws to promote the rights of women, and significant progress had been made in areas such as legal status, attitudes, women’s involvement in decision-making, especially at the political level, in employment, education, ownership of homes, and businesses, the justice system, and economic participation.

Among other things, women representation in the National Assembly moved from a mere 2.7 percent pre-1994 to the current 41 percent.

“More importantly, women lead us in Parliament with both the Speaker and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces being women.”

The representation of women in Cabinet following the 2014 general election stood at 43 percent, with deputy ministers being at 45.9 percent.

The local government level was also showing steady progress in the representation of women.

Women constituted about 33 percent of all the judges in the judiciary. There were 61 women judges of which 48 were black women.

“Furthermore, we have two women Judge presidents and a woman deputy judge president.”

Women also constituted about 41 percent of the total magistracy.

However, while the public sector continued to improve the status of women, the private sector still lagged behind, he said.

The Employment Equity Report indicated that in 2014, women still accounted for only 21 percent of top executive management positions and 32 percent of all senior management positions.

“Women appear to be stuck at both middle and junior management levels where they account for 45 percent and 43 percent respectively.

“It would be good to have more women serving on the boards of directors of corporate South Africa.”

The Employment Equity Commission indicated that in spite of all the efforts, remnants of unfair discrimination still persisted in a number of areas, especially in the labour market.

Women were discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy or marital status. They were also subjected to pay inequality and sexual harassment.

“These must be addressed as all citizens are entitled to equal treatment,” Zuma said.