East London – It is only through placing issues underlying the misery of women high on the transformation agenda that government can achieve equal opportunities and progress for all, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday.
“Working in partnership with women in all sectors for social transformation must be intensified…The development of young women must be prioritised, with young women included in progressive structures,” she said at a memorial lecture to commemorate Women’s Day in East London.
The Eastern Cape town will host this year’s main Women’s Day event where thousands are expected to gather at Absa Stadium on Monday to commemorate the day. She said education must be a precondition for development, empowerment and progress adding that without education, women would find it difficult to talk of equal opportunities in a free and democratic society.
Motshekga paid tribute to the women who led the daring protest march against the pass law system on 9 August 1956. “We salute the pioneers that paved the way for us, we remember the gallant heroines and heroes who rose against colonialism, those who protested the pass laws; those who took united action against unjust labour laws,” she said. The women included Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Sophie Williams- De Bruyn and Rahima Moosa.
Motshekga said the promotion of gender equality and strengthening of the gender machinery within government, the legislature and within civil society must also be emphasised.
Motshekga said the women, who under severe conditions of poverty, oppression and exploitation, created homes, educated and developed and produced leaders of yester-year and today.
She said her department will introduce stringent measures to promote the schooling of young girls while strategies to empower them with leadership skills were also in place.
“There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health – including helping to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids”.
Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya said while current data indicated that the gender parity index was in favour of girls at secondary school level, there is a need for government to put additional measures to increase the number of young women enrolled in areas of mathematics, science and technology.
“We cannot deny that we are still faced with major inequities in our society. The burden of poverty and unemployment falls unevenly on women, young people and children. We know for instance that children in female-headed households are more likely to experience poverty and hunger,” she said.
She said government had committed to intensify programmes to improve the social condition of women children and youth in the next five years. These include increasing the number of children accessing child support grants up to the age of 18, pushing the number of beneficiaries of the grant from 22,000 in 1998 to 8 million children in 2008.
Source – BuaNews