SADTU observes March 8, International Women's Day

8 March 2017

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU), as an affiliate of global teacher union Federation Education International (EI), is celebrating International Women's Day under both the EI theme: "A woman's place is in her Union for economic justice and empowerment." And United Nation's theme, "Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.

The Day was founded in 1909, it is a revolutionary history typically overlooked and was inspired by the struggles of working-class women and declared by socialist women as part of the fight for working-class self-emancipation.

The Day offers us an opportunity to raise awareness of inequalities and reminds us of the struggles towards the attainment of gender equality. Although there has been some progress towards the emancipation of women since the democratic government through the enactment of certain legislations and globally with the United Nations recognising the centrality of women's economic empowerment to the 2030 Development Goals Agenda, there is still a long way to go towards achieving gender equality.

As a Union in the education sector, SADTU has a critical role to play to accelerate the economic empowerment of women by ensuring that girl learners are empowered to dream big and to know that education is their human right that can enable them to be critical players in the changing world of work and lead them to economic empowerment.

It is, however, sad to note that even though at times women receive that education, they are paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. In South Africa, although women are in the majority in the teaching profession, more males hold senior positions. This cannot continue to happen if we need to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

In order to bring gender equity within the leadership of SADTU, the Union adopted a 50-50 gender representation policy. This policy is already apparent in the Union's leadership and will cascade to provincial and regional leadership levels. For these policies to become practical, they require change in many levels such as cultural values, norms, individual attitudes and beliefs about gender power relations.

As we celebrate International Women's Day in 2017, the country is battling with the issue of violence and sexual abuse towards women and girls. SADTU calls on teachers who engage in sexual relationships with learners to stop, because we believe that such acts are an insult to the profession.

SADTU, through its Gender Desk, is continuing with the School Related Gender Based Violence Programme (SRGBV) initiated by the United Nations Girls Education Initiative, EI and Gender At Work which is supported by the Government of Canada. Evidence indicates that school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) affects millions of children and adolescents worldwide. It is one of the worst manifestations of gender discrimination and violates a wide range of children's rights. Education is critical in empowering and transforming the lives of young people, especially girls, yet widespread gender-based violence in and around schools seriously undermines the achievement of quality, inclusive and equitable education for all children.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157