SA: Use budget to empower women – Xingwana

Image: Wikimedia

Pretoria – The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has called for “gender responsive” budgeting that can be used as a tool to promote the socio-economic rights of women, children and people with disabilities.

Speaking during the launch of Women’s Month in the capital city on Wednesday, Xingwana said this would go a long way towards reducing inequality, adding that it was a critical step to advancing women empowerment.

“We are fully aware that budgets have been instrumental in perpetuating gender biases globally. We also know that budgets can be instrumental in transforming and redressing existing gender inequalities,” Xingwana said, adding that mainstreaming gender into budgeting processes was crucial to building an equal society.

Earlier this year, the department launched the Women and Budgeting Initiative in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation. The aim was to reflect on the budgeting process and economic frameworks and how these could constrain or promote the development and implementation of policies aimed at empowering women and vulnerable groups.

South Africans will, from today until the end of August, commemorate Women’s Month to be held under the theme “56 Years of Women United against Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment”.

The month was declared Women’s Month by the democratic government of South Africa as a tribute to the thousands of women who marched on 9 August 1956 to protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

Each year, government uses Women’s Month as a platform to focus the attention of the nation on issues of women empowerment and gender equality – two areas in which Xingwana said the country had registered significant progress.

“An array of measures, introduced since 1994 to promote women empowerment and uphold gender equality, have drastically improved the position and conditions of women in our country. Women occupy influential positions in government and play an important role in decision-making processes,” Xingwana said.

However, she pointed out that while substantial strides have been made to empower women and promote gender equality, women still bore a disproportionate burden of the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“Women continue to be marginalised and discriminated against in terms of economic opportunities, the labour market as well as access to land, credit and finance.”

Xingwana said the process of developing the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was at an advanced stage and it would be tabled before Cabinet during the 2012/13 financial year.

The bill will help enforce compliance in both government and the private sector.

Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Zoe Kota-Fredericks, said her department’s priority was to ensure the empowerment of women, especially in the construction sector.

Deputy Minister of Police, Maggie Sotyu, said the department had launched the Men for Change project, where men within the service commit to ensuring the safety of women and children.

Source: SA News – Press Release – 1 August 2012

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