National Assembly: Cape Town, 23 August 2011
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.
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
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
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.