During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2021 Women’s Day address, he provided a much-anticipated update to the country’s National Strategic Plan to combat the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV), and called on the private sector to ramp up financial inclusivity.
The plan, launched last year, has, according to Ramaphosa, made some progress towards realising a GBV-free South Africa in our lifetime.
Stringent legislation and justice for victims
He said in terms of justice and support for GBV victims, 32 regional courts have now been designated as sexual offences courts.
3,500 family violence, child protection and sexual offences investigating officers have also received specialised training.
In addition, he said 12 public buildings have been renovated and repurposed to be used as shelters for GBV victims, and that work is being done to ensure all police stations have sexual assault evidence kits to bring perpetrators of heinous crimes to book.
Key legislation surrounding domestic violence, bail and sentencing, and broadening the scope of sexual offences is also currently before Parliament.
Conviction rates have improved, and legislation to address sexual offences in the workplace will soon be put in place.
The first phase of the GBV private sector response fund has to date received over R140 million in pledges, and government has allocated R21 billion over the next three years to support the six pillars of the plan.
However, the critical pillar was to ensure women’s economic and financial inclusion.
One of the ways this is being done is to create procurement opportunities for female-owned businesses within the public sector.
A women’s economic assembly is also due to be launched later this month to create more supply chain opportunities for women-owned businesses in key industries such as steel, automotive and energy sectors.
Covid-19 adds to women’s burdens
Covid-19 has been particularly and unfairly harsh on women and children, who have so far bore the brunt of economic growth stalling and the halting of development.
Ramaphosa said income recovery has not been as productive for women as for men, but that voernment was working to ensure women benefit from revent relief measures.
This includes ensuring women are included in trade and are able to participate and benefit from continental free trade agreement.
He said much work still needed to be done to ensure the safety of women and girls, but wanted women’s opportunities to not be limited by social attitudes, practices of economic circumstances.
Part of this is to allow women to study anything and take up any occupation.
“Let us eject sexism in homes, churches, schools, organisations, government and places of work.
“Let us raise a new generation of men and women who understand the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constituion belong to all.”