South Africa Country Statement presented by Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Women, South Africa at the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), United Nations, New York
Executive Director for UN Women
South Africa congratulates you and the Bureau on your election as Chairperson of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. We look to you to provide leadership and stewardship that will facilitate meaningful conclusions for the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment. South Africa aligns itself with the statements delivered by the State of Palestine on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and on behalf of the African Group.
South Africa takes this opportunity to express our resolve and commitment on our election to serve as a Member of the Commission for the period 2019 to 2022.
We stand here building on the legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela, Mama Charlotte Maxeke, Mama Albertina Sisulu and Mama Winnie Mandela. These are the giants of our struggle for liberation and the total emancipation of women.
Our history shows that our policy advances on women’s empowerment and gender equality was a result of women’s hard won battles and sacrifices. Unfortunately there is still much to be done to dismantle the system of patriarchy.
South African society is built on the Constitution that embeds democratic values, social justice, fundamental human rights, equality and human dignity. Our Bill of Rights guarantees access to health care services, sexual and reproductive health and rights, sufficient food and water, and social security and social assistance.
Our unyielding fight for the total emancipation of women is guided by global, continental and regional instruments. This includes the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, Resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, resolution 60/2 on women, the girl child, and HIV and AIDS, the AU Maputo Protocol and the SADC Gender and Development Protocol.
We build strong partnerships with civil society to advance women’s emancipation and gender equality.
We held a Presidential Summit on Gender Based Violence and Femicide and made firm commitments to work with civil society to take decisive action to implement a national strategic plan against GBV.
The South African government adopted a comprehensive social protection system that is transformative and redistributive and reduces the burden on women and girls. The progressive realisation of women’s human rights through social protection is beginning to change gender power relations within households and communities.
Public services and social infrastructure that work for women and girls is emerging as a critical priority of the government. Women with disabilities and key populations such as LGBTQIA+ are also a major focus of concern.
The following public services and provision make up our comprehensive social protection system which makes significant impact in reducing poverty and inequalities.
- Social grants for children, elder persons and persons with disabilities which cover 17 million South Africans and account for 3.2% of our GDP.
- Free basic services, shelter, water, sanitation and energy for poor households.
- Subsidised Early Childhood Development, free basic and higher education for the poor, school nutrition, scholar transport.
- Free sanitary pads which address dignity and the reproductive health needs of girls.
- Free universal primary health care including programmes for pregnant women and children under six and vaccination for cervical cancer for girls.
- Statutory social insurance that include Unemployment Insurance, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and a Road Accident Fund.
- Voluntary social security for formally employed in the form of pensions and provident funds.
- Active labour market policies to facilitate youth labour market entry through Skills Training and Vocational Colleges.
- Expanded Public Work Programmes and Community Work Programmes for income support.
- Minimum wages that have a significant effect on wages for domestic, farm and casual workers.
- Developmental social welfare services for individuals, families and communities and those who experience GBV.
Women have been historically excluded from the ownership of land and meaningful participation in the economy.
Women’s ownership and control of land is high on the government agenda. Financing enterprise development, access to credit and access to markets are central in government’s effort to ensure economic inclusion of women. We have undertaken time use surveys and analysis to quantify and cost women’s unpaid labour and its contribution to the economy.
We are advancing our work on women’s empowerment through the Presidential Review Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Emancipation.
We have come a long way since 1994. We have much further to go in building a gender responsive and transformative social protection system to ensure women’s emancipation and gender justice.
Together we will destroy Patriarchy and push back against the Push Back!