Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula addresses battalions at the annual Women's Day Parade in Pretoria. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

PRETORIA - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has directed the South African National Defence Force to kickstart research on the state of gender relations within the SANDF, as the country examines the strides made in women emancipation, across different sectors, in the 25 years of democracy.

"It is envisaged that by early September 2019, the NAP [the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in South Africa] should be endorsed by Cabinet and the official launch to take place before the end of September 2019. This will place South Africa in a position to table the NAP during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) scheduled for mid-October 2019, being the 25th country on the continent to develop a NAP based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325," Mapisa-Nqakula told the annual Women’s Day Parade at the Thaba Tshwane military base in Pretoria.

"In this regard, I wish to take the opportunity to direct that there is research conducted on the state of gender relations within the SANDF. This will be opportune as we are marking our country’s twenty-fifth anniversary of freedom. In addition, the last time such a comprehensive research survey was undertaken was in 2009."

She said the outcome of that research will enable the military to design effective strategies for entrenching military discipline, inclusiveness and force cohesion.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula arrives at the annual Women's Day Parade in Pretoria. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

"Chief of the South African National Defence Force [General Solly Shoke who was also in attendance], you are to direct the senior women, generals and admirals of the SANDF to become involved and steer the process to develop a feasible implementation plan for the DOD.  We need to identify the roles and responsibilities of the DOD, derive risks and implications that might negatively impact on the DOD’s role and responsibility to effectively contribute to the implementation of the NAP and identify the way forward," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

"I re-emphasise, I want senior women, generals and admirals to be involved in this process and require collective buy-in when presented to the Command Council. I wish to highlight the fact that we must be proud and celebrate those women who, on an enduring basis, have improved the lot of people in defence and are essential to the organization’s output and never seeking recognition or rewards for what they do."

Mapisa-Nqakula paid tribute to numerous women in senior SANDF positions for taking leading roles in all arms of the SANDF, from combat battalions to combat support, pilots, engineers, health professionals across the board.

Photo: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA.

"Women have also done several outreach programmes in their areas of deployment, including assisting an orphanage, engagements with the women and starting hygiene training, Ebola prevention, feeding children among other activities – all in general protection of women and children. As a signatory to the UN Resolution 1325, we have ensured that there is effective amendment to our defence legislation, to tighten provisions that will impose harsher punishment for our deployed soldiers who become involved in sexual exploitation and abuse, commonly referred to as SEA," she said.

"We have deliberately taken these measures and have submitted to Cabinet and parliament an extensively amended Military Discipline Bill that will strengthen our hand against SEA and empower commanders. In addition we have ensured that our military justice system reacts quickly when such cases arise and they are immediately dispatched on site to be able to conduct investigations and military courts."

Mapisa-Nqakula was on Thursday joined by the SANDF top brass to the prestigious event all female serving members of the military. The Women’s Day Parade is an annual event held in commemoration of Women’s Month.

African News Agency (ANA)