8 March 2022
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) today pays her respects to women of our country and the world in observance of 8 March, International Women's Day.
The day celebrates the historical, cultural, and political achievements of women and supports acting against gender inequality.
In 2022, International Women's Day is observed under the theme, "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow."
As we applaud women for the strides, they have made in advancing their struggles and the enactment of laws to advance and protect them, their battle still has a long way to go.
While some women have made it in the political, social, and professional spheres, their numbers are a drop in the ocean; women are still bound by the shackles of poverty and patriarchy. They continue to be the face of poverty. According to the United Nations study on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality in East and Southern Africa, more than 60% of women and men in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa experienced a complete loss of personal incomes due to the pandemic. It deepened the already high poverty rates and entrenched the gender disparity of women.
Women continue to be victims of gender-based violence. A 2021 United Nations study on women based on thirteen countries showed that 45% of women reported that they or a woman they know experienced a form of violence during the pandemic which included non-physical abuse, verbal abuse, and the denial of basic resources. In South Africa, gender-based violence continues at an alarming rate.
We therefore welcome the signing by President Cyril Ramaphosa, into law, three bills aimed at defeating gender-based violence and child abuse: Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill. These will bring among others, stricter parole conditions, protect the victims, and give police more powers to investigate gender-based violence cases. We, however, would like to see the police capacitated and given all the appropriate resources that will enable them to implement these laws.
Further, we welcome the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 which seeks to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work. This is an important milestone towards ensuring the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace. Although all these laws and policies are in place, women still need to be vigilant and ensure they comply with Convention 190 provisions.
We cannot rely on the legislation alone to fight gender-based violence. We require change at various levels. We need to change gender stereotyping cultural practices, norms, and beliefs in order to put a stop on gender-based violence.
As a union in the education sector, SADTU fully understands the power of education in empowering and transforming the lives of young people and creating a better nation. We are going to continue to use this tool to shape learners' minds into understanding issues of gender so that they appreciate the importance of gender equality in building a sustainable tomorrow.
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