Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has called on communities across the country to work with government in eradicating "the second pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide".
Nkoana-Mashabane was on Thursday addressing members of the media to announce the launch of Women's Month.
"As we confront the second pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide, we must agree that the fight is bigger than government and requires collective societal commitment," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The minister said during the month of August the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) would be accelerated, "in partnership with civil society".
"We call upon our communities to join and help us eradicate this pandemic. We further appeal to families and communities to come together against this scourge to expose perpetrators and not turn a blind eye. Anyone who harms someone else must face the full might of the law," the minister said.
She said it was important that "the Men's Movement" is continuously strengthened "so that men can play a meaningful role in ending GBVF" and can contribute to changing behaviours "and the breaking of stereotypes towards the goal of gender equality".
The minister called on the nation to act to ensure that "gender equality in our lifetime" is achieved.
She pointed out that "the second pandemic" continues "to raise its ugly head in our society" in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent "national state of disaster" which have created "difficult circumstances".
Nkoana-Mashabane said Women's Month is an opportunity to pay tribute and salute the country's heroines, "including but not limited to Charlotte Maxexe, Albertina Sisulu, Sophie de Bruyn, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Phila Ndwandwe, Dulcie September, Emma Mashinini".
"We want to join hands across spheres of government and with all sectors of society as part of a decade of action towards gender equality. We also want to see sustainable programmes that are geared towards achieving this goal. Together with civil society, we are establishing action coalitions which will work to drive visible change for women in our country.
"The department of women, youth and persons with disabilities plays an important role in the mainstreaming of gender, youth and issues affecting persons with disabilities. Our focus continues to be on inter-sectionality, because women, youth and persons with disabilities continue to face multiple forms of deprivation in our society," the minister said.
She said it was important to be cognizant that women, youth and persons with disabilities have been the hardest hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"While government introduced a range of relief measures, it is critical that women's access to government social and economic relief measures is urgently addressed and that women are at the centre of government's economic recovery plan," Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The voices of women in rural areas, in informal settlements, those of young women, girls, elderly women, women with disabilities, women workers, the LGBTQIA+ community, women in faith-based communities, women traditional leaders, women professionals and women from across all sectors, should be heard, Nkoana-Mashabane said.
"We have to strive to dismantle patriarchy in all its forms as an underlying cause of many of the injustices women face on a daily basis," the minister said.
The minister said this year's National Women's Day event on 9 August will be celebrated virtually.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)
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