9 August 2020 Media Release: Women’s Day Message by Municipal Manager Monde Stratu

Media Release: Women’s Day Message by Municipal Manager Monde Stratu

For Immediate Release
9 August 2020

Women’s Day Message by Municipal Manager Monde Stratu

Annually in August, South Africans celebrate Women’s Month to ’salute‘ more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the requirement for women to carry passbooks as part of pass laws. These brave women of all races and ages, from every corner of South Africa, selflessly stood together in unity, singing the song, amongst others, titled Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ imbokodo – When you strike a woman, you strike a rock’.

This year’s celebrations will be commemorated under the theme “Generation Equality: Realising women’s rights for an equal future”. The concept of generation equality is a global campaign and links South Africa to global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.

At the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), we want to celebrate and honour women of South Africa, across all spheres of life, and we would like to acknowledge them for their contributions towards the achievement of a democratic South Africa.

Women in South Africa and around the world are still faced with discrimination and find gender equality elusive, however, we acknowledge that women’s empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality. This includes increasing a woman’s sense of self-worth, decision-making power, access to opportunities and resources, power and control over her own life inside and outside the home, and the ability of women to effect change.

As a municipality, we believe that empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of their families, communities, and country, and that creates a ripple effect that benefits everyone. In many instances, women wear different hats, because they are caregivers for their children, spouses and siblings while they also work full-time as breadwinners for their households.

This year’s Women Month commemoration comes at a time when the country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the country entered alert Level 3 of the COVID-19 lockdown on 1 June 2020, we have witnessed a surge in gender-based violence and femicide, leaving women and children vulnerable and in danger.  It is furthermore tragic to witness, that after 64 years of the Women’s March of 9 August 1956, South African women still faced major challenges such as unemployment, poverty, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and gender inequality.

This violence against women takes many forms, and it remains a critical challenge facing society today.  Throughout the country, women fall victim to physical, emotional and sexual assault, and humiliation daily by their partners. Lesbian women are raped or gang-raped to justify these inhuman deeds as attempts to convert to a heterosexual orientation. Others contract HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases, mothers are murdered, which leads to a new phenomenon of child-headed household, where children are forced to run households and look after younger siblings.

With the above said, it is imperative that a stricter approach to the justice system is put in place in order for women to feel safe enough to report crimes committed against them. Perpetrators must face the full might of the law.

We want to encourage women and victims of gender-based violence to be courageous; to take a stand; show strength, and make their voices heard.  In doing so, they will take control and be of motivation for those who lost their voices and dignity.  As the GRDM we pledge to continually create awareness, pledge our support and promote a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle issues women and children face.

In conclusion, we want to echo the words of the President of SA, Cyril Ramaphosa, during a nation-wide speech saying:  “In far too many cases of gender-based violence, the perpetrators are known to the victim, but they are also known to our communities. That is why we say this is a societal matter and not a matter of law enforcement alone. Gender-based violence thrives in a climate of silence. With our silence, by looking the other way because we believe it is a personal or family matter, we become complicit in this most insidious of crimes,” Ramaphosa said.