Gauteng Premier David Makhura joins the women’s march from Lillian Ngoyi Square to the Union Buildings in celebration of Women’s Day.
Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
THE struggle for the total emancipation of women is in their hands because things will not just happen for them without a persistent fight, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said yesterday.

He addressed the multitudes of women on the southern lawn of the Union Buildings, where they commemorated the 1956 Women’s March against the carrying of dompasses enforced by the then apartheid regime.

Dressed in black attire and ANC colours, women braved the cold weather to gather in the morning at the Women’s Living Heritage Monument at Lillian Ngoyi Square and embarked on a 2km walk to the Union Buildings.

The march was organised under the theme “100 Years of Albertina Sisulu, Woman of Fortitude: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward” and it coincided with Sisulu’s centenary birth.

Led by Makhura, thousands of women retraced the steps of the anti-pass laws march ochestrated by 20000 women 62 years ago.

Participants left from Helen Joseph street, moved on to Mandela Drive, and walked on Nelson Street all the way to the Union Buildings.

Delivering his message for the day, Makhura urged women to be organised and exert pressure on government institutions in order for changes to be effected in their favour.

“We need women to be organised in every sector. We must put pressure on the institutions. As the premier of Gauteng I know institutions sometimes work at their own pace. I know government officials sometimes work at their own pace,” he said.

He said women must not be hesitant to knock on the doors of government.

“I want women who are organised, including when you were to march to my offices on things that are not happening fast enough. We must dispel this idea that things will just happen,” Makhura said.

However, he cautioned them not to be ill-disciplined when they march by burning public property.

“Women need to take actions and sometimes radical actions. I am not talking about burning down things because women are always disciplined,” he said.

He told young women it would take militant action to get them to where they want to be. “My message is that it took a struggle to get us where we are today. It took sacrifices by women to get us where we are today,” he said.

Makhura used the opportunity to take stock of the successes made by his ANC-led administration in addressing gender disparities in government since he assumed office four years ago. “I am proud to say that in our cabinet we have five men and five women,”he said.

However, he said there was more work that still needed to be done to strike the gender balance between women and men in the administration. “We have just finished assessing the women in the administration of Gauteng, especially in senior management,”he said.

Despite that his administration targeted a 50-50 gender representation in public service, it had at least 42% of women’s representation.

Makhura also weighed in on the gender pay gap issue, saying women with the same qualifications like men needed to be equally remunerated.

Makhura announced the decision by his administration to launch the Albertina Sisulu Women’s Leadership Development Programme in honour of Mama Sisulu.

Through the programme young women, who have some qualifications, would be offered training to work in the public service.

“We want to train them and introduce them in the public service. We can’t keep saying to the youth they must have experience. Where will they get experience if they are not given opportunities?” he said.

The chairperson of the Gender Commission, Lulama Nare, called on the government to make available more funding for the protection of women.

She denounced bad treatment meted out against women, saying it ought to come to a halt.

She further called on the government to create jobs opportunities for women.