Chairperson, hon chair of the committee hon Memela, hon Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, today I stand before you to present Budget Vote 8 as the Minister in the Presidency responsible for women. We are tabling this budget during the transitional period between the fourth and fifth ANC-led administrations.
Let me take this opportunity to pay my respects to the family of one of the illustrious daughters of our soil, the deputy president of the ANC Women's League, one of our own, Ms Nosipho Ntwanambi, who passed away on Tuesday July 8 2014. May her soul rest in peace. She was a stalwart dedicated to the empowerment and emancipation of women. Hers was a life lived in sacrifice and she has left us with a rich legacy. We will pick up the baton and continue from where she has left off.
On July 3 2014, President Jacob Zuma signed a proclamation establishing the Department of Women, located in the Presidency, thereby reaffirming the country's commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action. This is a positive step in enhancing the department's role to lead, co-ordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women's socioeconomic empowerment, rights and equality through mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation.
We are currently engaged in a reconfiguration process to transfer the functions and responsibilities related to the programmes for the rights of people with disabilities and the rights of children to the Department of Social Development, as pronounced by the President on May 25 2014.
A joint task team has been established to expedite the transition, guided by the Presidency and the Department of Public Service and Administration. At the departmental level, this has necessitated a strategic realignment and restructuring exercise. We are reviewing all programmes, taking stock of the human capital and financial needs to move the women's agenda forward.
In addition we will be reviewing the status, role, location and sustainability of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence so as to strengthen efforts towards the elimination of gender-based violence in our society. As such, by the end of this month, we will be undertaking our first departmental strategic planning session, as the Department of Women in the Presidency, to develop a five-year strategic plan for 2015 to 2020.
We are not departing from an unknown plane; there has been work done before us. Ours is to build forward, mindful of the foundation already laid. Let me therefore take this opportunity to reflect on some of the commitments that were made in the previous budget by my predecessor, former Minister Lulu Xingwana.
The department committed itself to advocating for more land to be allocated to women by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. We thus welcome the reopening of the land claims process and we will be monitoring how women benefit from it. [Applause.]
We also welcome the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform's final policy proposals on strengthening the relative rights of people working the land. As the Department of Women, we will submit inputs which will ensure that women working on farms, those who reside on farms and women who are married to farm workers, benefit from this process.
We had committed ourselves to finalising the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The Bill was tagged as section 76 Bill and went through the National Assembly processes and was approved and referred for concurrence to the NCOP.
Further amendments were made by the NCOP. However, due to the rising of Parliament at the end of the fourth administration, it lapsed. We therefore intend to further review and consult on this Bill. May I also emphasise that this is a new process, as we all know. According to the Rules of Parliament, at the end of any session the Bill lapses. So we are in the new process of review and we will welcome all those who want to participate in this process and will take into consideration a multiplicity of views.
We had also made a commitment to submit reports on the rights of children to the African Union, AU, and the United Nations, UN, and Cabinet approved the following reports for depositing: the combined fourth report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
This year will see the promotion of the National Plan of Action for Children as well as the domestication of international and regional conventions.
The National Disability Rights Policy, which strives to address poverty and inequalities, experienced by persons with disabilities, in a systematic process that places the responsibility for removing access and participation barriers on duty-bearers, will be finalised this financial year.
As we know, the Department of Social Development will also, as part of their mandate, take over the responsibilities and functions pertaining to the rights of children and persons with disabilities. We have also signed and ratified international and regional instruments such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Cedaw; the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs; the Beijing Platform for Action; the African Union Protocol; and the Southern African Development Community, SADC, Gender Protocol. The department has undertaken to report on the progress made in the country on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and Cedaw.
The Beijing plus 20 report will focus on the country's progress to date on the implementation of the critical areas that include access to education in technical fields, access to health services, the Beijing plus 20 report, increased levels of participation in political spheres and increased appointment and participation of women in the judiciary.
Most of these achievements have been made possible by the consistent political will and progressive legislative reforms for the rights and empowerment of women and the advancement of the girl child and gender equality.
The Cedaw report will assess the extent to which South Africa has successfully implemented the range of provisions of the convention, including progress on the adoption of legislative enactments regarding the criminalisation of certain sexual offences, equality and children, as well as government policies, programmes and plans of action to promote gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women.
The report will also indicate progress made on the multisectoral interministerial action plan to combat violence against women and the adoption of comprehensive measures to better address such violence. In addition, the report will reflect on measures to address violence such as the campaign for the prevention of violence, as well as public awareness of the fact that all forms of violence against women are in violation of women's rights.
The country, represented by the former Minister of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, in March participated in a successful 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. We reached agreed conclusions that are holistic and transformative, including the stand-alone goal on gender equality and the mainstreaming of gender in all other future goals in the post-2015 development agenda.
We therefore have a clear mandate from the women of Africa and the women of the world in terms of the report to the heads of state when they meet in September to deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda.
We will also report that through the framework of the gender-responsive budgeting, GRB, the country will ensure the necessary budgetary allocations for the implementation of projects and programmes, including socioeconomic empowerment and overall gender mainstreaming.
This Budget Vote seeks to consolidate the gains made in the previous term of office while also setting a firm foundation for the future with regard to women's empowerment and gender equality. The overall budget for this financial year is R198,3 million - I read it right - which includes the R63 million allocated for the Commission for Gender Equality.
This budget continues to pose limitations in fulfilling the mandate of this department. The reorganisation will therefore create an opportunity for adequate resourcing. Whilst we acknowledge with great pride the strides made in the past 20 years towards women empowerment and gender equality, we have to contend with the unsettling reality of high unemployment, poverty and inequality that continue to challenge women in their various experiences.
The removal of the persisting barriers to the advancement of women, many of which are systemic, structural inequalities that are patriarchal in nature, remains a critical condition to achieving women empowerment and gender equality. It is therefore imperative, as the President outlined in his June state of the nation address, that -
As we enter the second phase of our transition from apartheid to a national democratic society, we have to embark on radical socioeconomic transformation to push back the triple challenges ...
... of inequality, poverty and unemployment.
Therefore, the aim of the Department of Women is to lead, co-ordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women's socioeconomic empowerment, rights and equality through mainstreaming, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.
In the next five years, the priority of the Ministry in the Presidency responsible for women will be to ensure that women's socioeconomic empowerment and women's rights are mainstreamed across all sectors of society through monitoring the extent to which the social and economic circumstances of women are significantly improved; promoting, advocating for and monitoring women's empowerment and gender equality; promoting the understanding of differential circumstances of women and men in society and the impact of seemingly neutral decisions, plans, laws, policies and practices on either gender through capacity-building on gender mainstreaming and responsive gender budgeting; facilitating and monitoring capacity building and skills development for women to participate meaningfully in all areas of the economy and the workplace; and standardising and regularising of accountability with regard to the implementation of gender mainstreaming by both public and private sectors.
The mainstreaming will be anchored on the following pillars. In terms of monitoring and evaluation, the department will play an oversight role by introducing monitoring and evaluation tools to hold not only the government but the private sector accountable when it comes to the mainstreaming of gender. The department will work closely with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to align our monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure harmonisation of our systems. We will pursue a strong research agenda to allow us to look at gaps which have resulted in women not benefiting as anticipated. The research findings will allow the department to make the necessary interventions.
With regard to gender-responsive budgeting, this is one of the enabling tools for the mainstreaming of gender. A radical change is needed to ensure that all parties in the Public Service and private sector, including NGOs, implement the gender-responsive budgeting in all their planning, programmes, budgeting and expenditure processes.
Lest we forget, this year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Women's Charter, which preceded the Freedom Charter of 1955, a clear indication that women in their own rights were pioneers in the struggle for liberation. The 1954 Women's Charter, together with the Freedom Charter of 1955, influenced and anchored the fundamentals of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. It further influenced and informed the development of the 1994 Women's Charter for effective equality. Some of the women in this Parliament played a role and some are still here to make sure we realise this dream.
The Women's Charter called for the enfranchisement of men and women of all races; the right to vote and be elected to all state bodies; the right to full opportunities for employment with equal pay and possibility of promotion in all spheres of work; equal pay for equal work - most of us can see the posters and the pictures of the women marching in 1956 on equal pay for equal work; equal rights in relation to property, land rights, marriage and children; and the removal of all laws and customs that denied women such equality, among other things.
For the first time, both black men and women voted in the historic general elections of 27 April 1994. All races voted as equals before the law. The dreams of women like Charlotte Mannye Maxeke were realised. They must have ululated in their graves as one of the aims of the Women's Charter of 1954 was fulfilled.
This path was carved out over a hundred years ago by the endless sacrifices and courageous struggles displayed by heroic stalwarts who are the embodiment of 102 years of a relentless forward march for total emancipation from all forms of discrimination. Unarmed and defenseless, they challenged the might and brutality of successive oppressive regimes in order to ensure that future generations would live in a South Africa that truly belongs to all, both black and white.
Once more, in 2013, we commemorated the centenary of the 1913 Women's March led by Charlotte Manye Maxeke against the introduction of pass laws and the infamous Natives Land Act of 1913. We also have to bear in mind that whilst celebrating 60 years of the Women's Charter, in 2016 we will also celebrate 60 years of the 1956 Women's March to the Union Buildings under the heroic leadership of Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Sophie De Bruyn, Rahima Moosa and many others.
It is, therefore, against this backdrop that we will be celebrating the 2014 Women's Month under the theme, Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Women's Charter and 20 Years of Freedom: Moving the Women's Agenda Forward. We will therefore elaborate on the programme for the National Women's Month on 31 July, when we brief the nation on the plans for this year.
Other significant milestones we need to build on, as together we move South African women forward, include key legislative frameworks such as the Employment Equity Act of 1998 and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000. These are some of the laws which are part of progress we have made so far.
The post-1994 visible representation of women as public representatives, both in the country and at international level, has risen significantly. Currently, for example, there is 41% representation of women in this Parliament, 43% of Cabinet Ministers and 46% of women Deputy Ministers. We are on track. Women now have increased access to participate in sectors that were previously male-dominated such as the judiciary - whilst we might not be happy, we are on track - defence, engineering, finance and commercial fields, amongst other sectors.
It is with heavy hearts today - although with great determination - that we will for the first time since the inception of the Mandela Day, be volunteering our services in recognition of his selflessness without our father uTata [Mr] Madiba. May his soul rest in peace.
In line with the 2014 Mandela Day theme and the call by the President to take pride in our country and clean up South Africa, this department has identified two projects. On Friday we will spend our 67 minutes of service at the Potter's House for Women and Children and the Rivoningo Care Centre in the City of Tshwane. Over and above doing some cleaning, we will initiate legacy projects at the two centres. This will go a long way in empowering women and young women with the basic skills that will enable them to be economically active.
In conclusion, during this term we will strive to ensure that women are lifted from a status of victims to victors. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to bring about the desired change and make true the saying "Nothing about women without women".
As women take centre stage in shaping their own future, the course ahead of us dictates that we must not shy away from being unpopular as this might be inevitable, especially since we will be more visible from an oversight perspective. The responsibility we have been charged with demands that we be firm and resolute in ensuring that women are major beneficiaries of interventions in the second phase of our transition.
Chairperson, may I take this opportunity to thank the Director-General, Ms Veliswa Baduza, of the Department of Women in the Presidency and her team for the sterling work they have done in ensuring that we are well prepared for this budget, especially as I am the new kid on the block. [Applause.]
I take this opportunity to solicit support for our budget from all colleagues in the House.
Ke lebogile. [Thank you.]
Ngiyabonga. [Thank you.] [Applause.]