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20 Years of Freedom and Democracy
MEC Makoma Makhurupetje: Launch of Women’s Month
Address by the MEC for Coghsta Mme Makoma Makhurupetje on behalf of Limpopo Premier Stanley Chupu Mathabatha on the occasion of the launch of the Women’s Month, held at Leboeng Sports Ground

Programme Director
Baka Difokeng, our traditional leader, Kgoshigadi Dinkwenyane
Executive Mayor of Sekhukhune District Municipality
Mayor for Feta-Kgomo / Greater Tubatse Local Municipality; Councillors here present
Members of the Media; Distinguished guests
Comrades, Ladies and gentlemen

Let me start by first greeting you in the name of our Premier, Honourable Chupu Stanley Mathabatha who has requested me to be with you as we mark this important National Women’s Month.

As you very well know, the entire month of August has been dedicated to commemorate the struggles women go through in their daily lives as girls, as mothers, as grandmothers, as sisters, as life partners or wives. Since 1994, our government chose the 09th of August as National Women’s day. This is a befitting tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 09 August 1956 in protest against Pass Laws.

Whilst women’s day is officially the 9th of August, today’s celebrations mark the beginning of women’s month in our country. As it is now customary, we have decided to use the first day of the beginning of women’s month to officially unveil a month-long programme of activities which are aimed at celebrating women and highlighting their plight in different spheres of life.

Whatever activities we will be embarking upon during this month, all of these activities shall draw courage and inspiration from the commitment taken by the women of 1956 who took it upon themselves to overturn their subjugation and humiliation. These flowers of the revolution were led by leaders such as Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams De Bruyn.

Our remembrance of the struggles of women of 1956 can never be complete without us evoking the memory of other women icons such as Ray Alexander Simons, Elizabeth  Mafekeng, Elizabeth Abrahams, Dora Tamana, Albertina Sisulu, Ida Mntwana, Bertha Gxowa, Florence Matomela and Mama Winnie Mandela.

It is also impossible to complete the remembrance of women struggles in South Africa, without tapping on the bravery and rich legacy of none other than Charlotte Maxeke, a woman who led the way in establishing the ANC Women’s League and encouraging women to engage in the struggle for freedom. Born, Charlotte Makgomo Manye, Comrade Charlotte is and has always been a humble child of the Batlokwa people of this province - a proud daughter of Limpopo, an outstanding leader and a committed activist of the South African women struggle.

Her background and ascendancy, typify that of any other rural girl who grew up in a dusty village, shut out from the glittering lights of modern city life and the success that accompanies it. Her background and passion for success would later earn her a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from the United States of America in 1905, making her the first black woman in South Africa to reach this height at a time when it was not possible for black people to do so.

These are the calibre of women who fought for us. These are the kind of leaders we should never forget, not now and not in the future.Today we enjoy the many rights we enjoy as women because of the bravery and sacrifices made by these women. We owe a lot to these women and in whatever we do, we must vow never to disappoint them by betraying what they fought for.

We therefore celebrate women’s month as a tribute not only to the thousands of women who marched on that day in 1956, but also as tribute to the pioneers of the women’s movement in this country, dating back from 1913. All these women refused to accept the false assertions that their place was merely limited to the kitchen.

The pain that we cannot fathom is that this year’s launch of the Women’s Month programme comes at the time when our country is faced with a strange and disturbing phenomenon of unprecedented levels of violence against women and children. We have seen in the recent past women being killed, some even being burnt by their partners beyond recognition.

No one has been spared in these episodes starting from two months old babies, pregnant women, grandmothers and even so called professional women. We have seen young girls being raped and violated by the people who were supposed to protect and love them.

The most worrying thing about these episodes is that in most cases they have been carried out by people closest to the victims. Often, the perpetrators have been boyfriends, husbands, fathers or uncles.

It is important to remember that these acts of abuse of women and children have not only been limited to the physical, as there are cases where women are financially and emotionally abused by their partners.

We have also experienced incidences were women get pimped into prostitution and others being turned into drug mules because of the difficult socio-economic conditions they find themselves in.

We also continue to experience situations were women  are being deprived work and other economic opportunities, even when there are laws and policies that prohibits such practices.

All these, and many other terrible episodes send a message to all of us that the struggle for women emancipation is not yet over.

This is an indictment to all of us as women, partnering with all progressive men, that we must continue the struggle for total emancipation of women and the girl child.

Programme Director;

But I must indicate that not everything has been bad and gloom in the last 23 years of our freedom. If truth be told, a lot has been achieved and there is still a lot that we can celebrate as women. Over the past years we have seen women making waves in all sectors of society; from politics, business, sports, etcetera. We also have so many women who are serving as MECs and Mayors. These are the women who should inspire all of us.

However, this is not enough, we want to see more women entering and succeeding in the corporate world especially in the technical professions.

Corporate South Africa is one sector that is still male dominated and must be changed sooner rather than later. My department is already taking a lead in this regard - as we have now taken a deliberate decision to appoint 30% women and 20% youth contractors to deliver on our housing mandate.

I’m quite sure that this decision will ensure that more and more women contractors enter the built environment not only as tenderers, but also as engineers and business owners.

Programme director

For us to continue making the necessary dent in empowering women, what is most cardinal is for us to first unite as women. Without unity, we will remain dominated by men in the corporate world. We must be able to support and lift each other in order for us to succeed.

The days of Pull Her Down syndrome must end, because the downfall of one woman is the downfall of all of us.

The truth is that we need each other.

It is for this reason that I want to urge you to form women cooperatives and business partnerships so that you are able to take advantage of the many opportunities that are availed to you by our democracy.

You stand a much better chance to succeed when you work in partnership than when one is working alone.

My message to you is that: stand up and seize  the opportunities that are presented to you by this government.

Programme director;

Before I can conclude, I would not have done justice to you without honouring the role that is being played by rural women who continue to bear the brunt of exploitation and harassment especially in the farms. These women, many of whom are hawkers and single parents continue to eke out a living often under harsher conditions.

They play a privotal role in their family’s development as both home makers and breadwinners to their children. We would not be acting in solidarity with one

another if we do not give much needed support to this category of women – the rural women.

The struggle for women emancipation will still be far from over without us liberating rural women from their harsh living and working conditions. Our struggle cannot be  complete  for  as long as some of our girl children are still forced by poverty to bear the indignity of life without decent sanitary towels;

As I have already said, we should not rest for as long as boardrooms in the private sector remain White and male dominated;

We should not rest as long as men require court orders for them to maintain their wives and children;

We cannot rest, for as long as wives continue to suffer economic abuse in the hands of those who are supposed to love them;

Our struggle must continue against the rape and killing of women and children.

This women’s month launch gives us that opportunity to

celebrate the achievements we have recorded over the years and to call for greater equality between men and women.

As women, we still must work together to empower ourselves so that we can be able to enjoy the opportunities that have been brought to us by this democracy. We still need to work harder to ensure that each woman and girls can exercise their choices in life without being dictated to by men.

This we must do because there are those who still believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen; which it is not.

Wathint' Abafazi Wathint' imbokodo!

I thank you!

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