PRESENTATION BY H.E. MS SUSAN SHABANGU: MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR WOMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 61ST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
South African delegation wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate our new UN Secretary General H.E. Antonio Guterres for reaffirming women leadership with the appointment of the third woman Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
I am delighted to see the successful second sitting of the UN Youth Forum and its focus on issues relating to education and skills development, access to finance and economic opportunities, combating alcohol and substance abuse, dealing with issues of HIV/AIDS etc.
It is through investments in our youth that we can assure ourselves of a better future. South Africa has a dedicated National Youth Development Agency which prioritises youth issues.
South Africa assures you of our continued support to the work of the Commission and your chairship during your tenure.
We align ourselves with the statements delivered by Ecuador on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Nigeria on behalf of the Africa Group; and Swaziland on behalf of the SADC.
South Africa has now achieved 42% of women in our Cabinet – and presiding officers of our legislature are women. We are in course to achieve 50% women representation before 2030.
As government, we have made progress in advancing women and gender parity in the workplace in a relatively short period of time.
We have amended our Employment Equity Act to achieve equity in the workplace. This would help close the wage gap and to ensure fair treatment of women in the Care Economy. We have also agreed on a minimum wage for domestic workers – and we also have preferential procurement policies in favour of women.
Consistent with our Gender Mainstreaming objectives, we remain committed to changing the very fabric of gender disparity in our economy e.g., in business, in construction and technical industries.
We have increased Black women directorship of Johannesburg Stock Exchange Listed Companies. In 2006, there were 114 black women directors in JSE-listed companies – a number that increased to 385 by 2016.
Since January this year, it is now mandatory for all listed entities to have a policy of promoting gender diversity at board level – as well as disclosure of how they are performing against this policy.
In the Judiciary, our statistics currently show that of the 242 permanent judges, 86 are women – representing about 35% of the total. Early this month, President Zuma announced his nomination of a woman to become South Africa’s first female President of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution – and its potential to narrow industry gender gaps is a frightening prospect.
Automation will take away jobs – particularly from women and therefore sources of sustainable livelihoods for households.
In the face of these challenges, we will not relent in our efforts to ensure access to justice – economic opportunities – employment – equal pay for work of equal value – paid maternity leave – equal rights and others.
Women’s empowerment through education particularly in STEM Fields, will ensure women’s full participation in the changing world of work. In this regard, two South African women professors are recipients of the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award.
The majority of students enrolled at our universities are women – and continue to perform better in the STEM fields. In 2016 – 56% of bursaries were offered to women towards postgraduate studies.
In the period 1996 to 2014, women’s overall enrolment in higher education increased from 48% to 58%. This is consistent with our National Development Plan.
South Africa has developed an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign for girls and women led by our Deputy President. This 3-year campaign focuses on HIV infections – unwanted pregnancies – school drop-outs – sexual and gender-based violence for girls and women aged 15-24 who have a high HIV/AIDS infection rate.
We have integrated women as soldiers and military commanders in our peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-enforcement roles on the African continent. We have also taken special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict.
We reaffirm our full commitment to the advancement of women empowerment and gender equality. In this context, we wish to draw the world’s attention to the humanitarian situation of Palestinian women and girls in the occupied territories.
South African looks forward to collaboratively engaging with you Chairperson and other Member States to ensure a successful outcome of this Session.
I Thank You Chairperson –