Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and hon members ...
... ngiyanibingelela lapho phezulu nani bo mama. [... I also greet the women who are up there.]
Indeed, hon Deputy Speaker, the government of the ANC has yet another good story to tell to the people of South Africa, particularly women. That story is the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which we will pass today, hopefully with the support of the DA, although I cannot bet on that.
With this Bill the ANC government is moving South Africa forward, very close to one of the ideals of a national democratic society - a society whose values were captured by the former President of Mozambique, the late Comrade Samora Machel, when he said:
The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory. The main objective of the revolution is to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society which releases the potentialities of human beings.
The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill is aimed, among others, at ensuring that women have equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. It also seeks to promote gender equality, as well as to ensure that all the country's commitments to the international community are complied with.
The Bill also aims to provide for the implementation of measures to achieve the progressive realisation of a minimum of 50% representation and the meaningful participation of women in decision-making positions and structures, including boards, of designated public and private bodies. The Bill puts paid once and for all to the myth that the woman's place is in the kitchen. With this Bill the ANC government is saying that the boardroom is as much a woman's place as any other place in South Africa.
The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill proposes a number of measures whose purpose is to mainstream and institutionalise women's empowerment and gender equality. In this regard, the Bill takes cognisance of the ANC's long-held view, which asserts that interventions aimed at eliminating gender inequality need to be institutionally enforced.
This is precisely because patriarchal oppression was embedded in the economic, social, religious, cultural, family and other relations in all communities. Its eradication cannot be an assumed consequence of democracy. All manifestations of patriarchy, from the feminisation of poverty, physical and psychological abuse, and undermining of self-confidence, to open and hidden forms of exclusion from positions of authority and power, need to be eliminated.
The Bill empowers the Minister with the necessary governance authority to monitor, review and oversee gender mainstreaming, the promotion of women empowerment and equal representation, and meaningful participation of women in all decision-making positions and structures.
The above-mentioned provisions will enable the protection and advancement of women and girl children, as instructed by the equality clause of section 9(2) of the Constitution, through public education on prohibited practices that discriminate on the grounds of gender. With this Bill we will educate the boy child that it is not cool to discriminate against the girl child. We will raise the consciousness of men for them to understand and appreciate that women have a right to walk freely, follow their aspirations freely, and contribute to society as equals.
Through this Bill the ANC government will support and reinforce the rights and remedies contained in applicable legislation, policies and mechanisms on the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.
As the ANC government we have over the past 20 years enacted legislation which seeks to empower women, as well as to combat and eliminate gender- based violence. With the support of patriotic parties, other than the DA, we have sought to make the lives of women better. We have heard our people when they have said that this is not enough. Now we are moving South Africa forward. We are reinforcing the rights and remedies on the empowerment of women.
The Bill enhances the capacity for the implementation of applicable legislation through the development of integrated strategies, frameworks, programmes, plans, activities and budgets which aim to eliminate structural and systemic inequalities and to enable women to gain power and control over decisions and resources that determine the quality of their lives in a sustainable manner.
How can a party not support such an empowering and enabling objective in the struggle of women? Women of South Africa, judge for yourselves who has your best interests at heart, and decide what to do on 7 May 2014. DA, your days are numbered! [Laughter.]
The Bill provides a legal framework for advancing, developing, promoting and protecting the rights of women through capacity building and training, lobbying, advocacy, awareness raising, empowerment and monitoring of compliance by all entities. The Bill enables the work of facilitating capacity building and the development of strategies for the implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting. In this regard, the Bill moves forward the struggle for the mainstreaming and institutionalising of women's empowerment and gender equality.
In supporting this Bill the ANC takes its cue from the President of the Republic of South Africa - the only President whose party will move South Africa forward - President Jacob Zuma. [Applause.] In his address at the national Women's Day celebrations on 9 August 2009, the President magnified the role of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, stating that:
The ... Ministry will monitor other government departments to ensure the mainstreaming of gender, children's rights, and disability considerations into all programmes of government and other sectors.
The President reiterated in his state of the nation address in February 2010 the need to integrate gender equity measures in government programmes of action to ensure that women, children and people with disabilities can access developmental opportunities.
The legal framework of this Bill enables facilitating compliance, quality and timeous reporting on the country's commitments to international treaties, and the prohibition of all forms of practices with adverse effects on women.
Women of South Africa, the ANC government will not stand idly by when women are abused, violated and brutally raped. We will support this Bill because it advances the struggle for the prohibition of all these evil practices. We wait to hear what the DA will say. We have now become familiar with their hypocrisy. They will say they support the idea of women's empowerment and then find a thinly veiled excuse not to support this progressive piece of legislation. That is what they stand for. The ANC is moving the struggle for the women in rural areas and girl children forward.
The existing legislation on women's empowerment and gender equality faces two related challenges. These are a lack of implementation of existing policies because of ignorance of their existence, and concerns about lack of enforcement of existing legislation. This particular Bill addresses both these concerns.
With regard to public education, the Bill provides for public education and awareness to address discriminatory practices and to empower women for meaningful participation in the economy. The Bill also provides that the Minister may intervene to enhance the public education programmes by designated companies.
Insofar as enforcement is concerned, the revised version of the Bill provides for punitive measures for noncompliance by the private sector, among others. In this regard, companies may be fined by as much as 10% of their annual turnover and/or imprisonment may be imposed. There is also a provision for the Minister to name and shame the culprits who fail to comply. When the Bill first came to us, the DA said that it did not have teeth. When the Bill was amended to include enforcement, they said that the teeth were very sharp and bit too hard!
This Bill lays a solid foundation for the inclusion of women in the mainstream economy where they can participate meaningfully through ownership of significant stakes on an equitable basis with their male counterparts.
As I conclude ... [Interjections.] ... I want to tell the women of South Africa that they should not be deceived by the DA, because the DA is only there to protect the wealth of the rich. We are reminded of the words ... [Interjections.]