Statement by Deputy Minister Alvin Botes during the Panel Discussion commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women: “Accelerating the Commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action”, Geneva, 25 February 2020
South Africa appreciates the efforts of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in initiating this dialogue at a time when the world is commemorating 25 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; and when Africa marks the end of the Decade of African Women. We welcome many of the salient insights provided by the esteemed Panel and echo the call for accelerating progress towards the full realisation and implementation of the commitments made in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Since 1994, South Africa has been cognizant of the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and other vulnerable groups in our society, such as children and persons with disabilities. It is for this reason that women empowerment and gender equality are the central focus of our national priorities.
As part of the commitments made in the Beijing Platform for Action, South Africa has developed progressive legislation, policies and programmes to facilitate women’s socio-economic empowerment and gender equality. To achieve gender-parity within the public and private sector, South Africa has put in place clear targets in key areas of political and governance levels to promote the advancement, representation and full participation of women in power structures and key decision-making structures. Positive strides have been made in the public sector with women occupying fifty percent of leadership and decision-making positions. Our challenge has been within the private sector. In reaching gender equality, an inclusive coordinated approach where government, business, civil society academia and youth work together to reach a common goal. Similarly, economic emancipation of women can never be reached if we work as different entities.
Gender inequality and gender based violence continue persistently in many parts of the world, including in our country. We are making necessary interventions at a socio-economic and political level to fast track programmes for women empowerment and gender equality. With regards to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, South Africa has established a National Strategic Plan targeting the eradication of Gender Based Violence and Femicide. However, for the strategy to be fully implemented, financial and non-financial commitments from national, regional and international organisations are encouraged to support government efforts of providing training and financial resources to eradicate the scourge of GBVF.
We have made progress to realise the Outcomes of Beijing Conference and having said that we are not oblivious of the challenges ahead. South Africa will lead from the front in addressing issues pertaining to woman empowerment and gender equality including reversing the scourge of Gender based violence.
At the continental level, South Africa is introducing initiatives within the African Union to promote amongst others the financial and economic inclusion of women, closing the wage gap through equal work equal pay and the support of women entrepreneurship, not forgetting efforts to address GBV. We aim to reinforce these initiatives at an institutional level through the AU Convention on Violence Against Women. We reiterate the call made at the AU and now calling upon in the UN system to repeal all the laws discriminating against woman, we also ask member states to commit to ratify the ILO Convention on Sexual Harassment as matter of necessity and urgency. We call upon the international community to support these initiatives.
South Africa continues to support the role of multilateralism, in particular, the importance of international commitments like the BDPA which finds new relevance at a time when South has observed with concern that some of the progressive gains made in improving the lives of women and girl children are under threat of being reversed.
I thank you.
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