Debate On Women’s Day
Working Together To Enhance Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Skills Development And Sustainable Job Creation
Remarks By Mrs Connie Zikalala
Women’s Multi-Caucus Deputy Chair


 

 

 

National Assembly: Cape Town, 23 August 2011 

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

I rise today, to first and foremost pay tribute to our mothers and grandmothers. It was in this month, on the 9th of August 1956, that 20 000 women of all races, carrying 100 000 petitions descended on the Union Buildings.

 

These brave women protested against the apartheid regime’s inhuman act of having to carry passes in urban areas. This month marks the spirit and courage of women in our country – past and present. Our women have always taken a stand at the most critical moments in our country’s history.

 

Women’s month reminds us that women’s voices must be heard. It reminds us that the road we have travelled as South African women has been a long, difficult and treacherous one. It also reminds us that we still have a long road to travel to fully realize our dream of an inclusive society, free of unfair discrimination, inequality and abuse.

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

Should we, as the women leaders of this Parliament and of South Africa at large, instead of debating the theme “Empowerment through skills development and sustainable job creation” rather have come here today to report to the House on the progress that we have made in our communities? I believe this approach would have been far more effective. 

 

While the IFP agrees that our country can show many gains and achievements in promoting women’s rights and advancing gender equality – many challenges persist and need to be overcome if we are to achieve a truly democratic and non-sexist society.

 

Other key challenges include: the poverty of our people, the underdevelopment of our country, the pervasiveness of crime, the repercussions of unemployment, the anguish of disease, the inefficiencies of our education system, the scourge of corruption, the decline of morality, the very real problem of food security, the death of the rule of law and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

 

As the IFP we are deeply concerned about food security, particularly in our rural areas where subsistence agriculture has largely fallen away. How will our families put food on the table as the price of food continues to skyrocket? The IFP has always urged our women not to wait for government handouts.

 

Everyone who has two hands should produce something in order to earn a living. A garden of vegetables is worth its weight in gold. But we need a far greater emphasis on self-help and self-reliance than the present ANC Government is willing to commit to. Instead, the Government is creating a welfare state where some 15 million South Africans receive a social grant.

 

I am not criticizing the idea of social grants. The IFP’s philosophy has always been to empower people to help themselves, not to make them perpetually dependent on a State that cannot provide for all their needs. History tells us that a welfare state will inevitably collapse under the weight of its financial obligations.

 

That is not what we want for South Africa. We want sustainable development that will make our citizens become more and more self-sufficient. We encourage the Department of Trade and Industry to increase their funding of the training workshops and women’s projects that they run, to benefit more women, especially in the rural areas.

 

For only in this way can the full measure of human dignity be achieved, and only in this way can we free South Africa to become economically prosperous. Once women are empowered with the skills they need can they create sustainable jobs for themselves.

I thank you.