Women’s Month: DA challenges Minister Xingwana to promote the rights of women
Helen Lamoela, Shadow Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities
1 August 2012
Today marks the beginning of Women’s Month. As we honour the women of 1956 who marched on the Union Buildings to protest against the pass laws, we acknowledge that some of the worst challenges faced by women then still persist for women today.
The DA challenges the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, to show us that she is serious about promoting and realising the rights of vulnerable and impoverished women. With an average budget of R142 million per year to coordinate and monitor the direct delivery of programmes to support, empower and develop vulnerable groups, Minister Xingwana consistently fails in achieving her mandate.
The statistics paints a bleak picture about the challenges faced by women in South Africa:
• Every 25 seconds a women or girl is raped;
• every six days a women in South Africa is murdered by her intimate partner;
• we are experiencing a spike in violence against elderly women, with two deplorable incidents of violent sexual attacks against grandmothers in the last week; and
• over 160 000 schoolgirls fell pregnant between 2008 and 2010, with many of the schoolgirls being in grades 3, 5 and 6.
This situation warrants a Ministry who is actively championing and protecting the rights of women and young girls.
Minister Xingwana accuses the DA of not understanding her department’s mandate and performance. On the contrary, it is the Minister who does not understand her mandate.
This department’s primary mandate is to promote, facilitate, monitor and coordinate the realisation of the rights of vulnerable groups. Minister Xingwana should be at the front line in overseeing the performance of other government departments in how they promote gender equity, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and the rights of children. We have yet to see compelling evidence that any of her department’s objectives have been achieved.
Women are the cornerstones of families and communities. They are our caregivers. They are our mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters. They are often breadwinners and sole providers. They deserve a Ministry who is serious about championing their rights and facilitating their advancement, empowerment and socio-economic development. Minister Xingwana must start showing us that her department matters.