President Jacob Zuma marked the annual Women’s Day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday by pledging that his government would do everything to improve the lives of women in South Africa, many of whom are living in squalor and abuse.
“The struggles of women enabled the ushering in of freedom and democracy, so that these services can be extended to all. Many women still live in difficult conditions. Some communities are still waiting for water, electricity, sanitation and housing,” Zuma said.
“Women are still struggling as they travel long distances to fetch water. It is for this reason that work is continuing to improve the lives of our people each day,” Zuma said.
“Government will not rest until decent basic services reach all our people. We know too, that women are troubled by unemployment. Work continues to improve the economic situation in the country through working together by business, government and labour.”
Zuma, however, said the situation in South Africa was exacerbated by tough global economic conditions.
“The economic situation is difficult for us and the world at large. But we will continue our efforts to improve the situation and [to] create an environment in which the private sector can create jobs,” said Zuma.
“The achievements of the women of 1956 have also translated to the opening up of the leadership space for women. There is a marked increase in the representation of women in Parliament, government, the judiciary and other key positions in the public sector.”
Zuma said some women had also climbed corporate ladders, heading giant corporations in the private sector, although much more still needs to be done to promote women in many companies.
Zuma said Tuesday marked a historic milestone of the commemoration of the August 9 protest march to the Union Buildings.
“On this day, 60 years ago, more than 20 000 brave women marched to the seat of government, the Union Buildings, to register their rejection of white supremacy and institutionalised racism. They marched to make it known to the apartheid regime, the country and the world, that they totally rejected pass laws which restricted their movements and made them pariahs in the land of their birth,” said Zuma.
“The women came from every part of South Africa, from cities and towns, the reserves and the villages. It was women from every racial group, African, white, Indian and coloured. They were united in their purpose and determination.”
Zuma said the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings on Tuesday also came from a diverse background.
“Women marched again today. They also came from all provinces, from villages and townships, towns and cities. They came to celebrate the bravery of the women of 1956, who laid a firm foundation for the restoration of our birth right, freedom, and for the dignity of women,” said Zuma.
August is dedicated as Women’s Month in South Africa, with nationwide commemorations taking place on August 9.
– African News Agency (ANA)