Today we salute all women on International Women's Day. Let us celebrate the courage and determination of every woman who has played an extraordinary role in every field, that has made this nation proud. We salute their indomitable spirit and dedication towards achieving their goals. While saluting the undaunted, fighting spirit of women this International Women’s Day we hope that the call to recommit ourselves to breaking the barriers that continue to hinder their path to freedom and equality.
Whilst South Africa boasts hosts of legislation and policies that affirm the rights of all including women and that which is enshrined in our constitution. These rights do not necessarily translate into reality in the lives of people who still face systemic and endemic forms of violence. More than half of women murdered in South Africa are killed by their intimate partners; and women and gender non-conforming people remain over-represented amongst the hungry, homeless and the poor.
Yet with the advent of democracy and freedom South Africa has seen a number of women taking up leadership positions in areas previously dominated by men. One of the success stories of our democracy is that of the representation of women in political and decision-making positions. Involving women in governance processes constitutes one of South Africa’s globally acclaimed success stories.
The election of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in July 2012 as the first women in Africa to chair the African Union Commission; the appointment of Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Deputy President of the country, as the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; and the positioning of other South African women such as Ms Geraldine Frazer-Moleketi, Special Gender Envoy to the African Development Bank; Ms Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences; and Judge Navi Pillay as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and formerly as a judge in the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an indication of the impact that women in decision-making have in winning the trust and confidence of citizens in South Africa, on the continent and internationally.
Happy International Women’s Day 2019!