By Jacob Zuma

The African National Congress (ANC) has dedicated this year to OR Tambo because we are marking the centenary of his birth; and equally, to honour him, considering the role he played as a leader of the ANC, yes, but also given the manner in which he provided leadership to the ANC under very difficult conditions.

I am often asked to recount my fondest memories of this great man. Some of them are

serious, others funny, some very petty, and others very small.

What stands out most for me was that he was a thinker: he was a man with which you

could discuss anything. By equal measure, he was a very good listener. What always stood out for me was that you could engage in lengthy conversation, at the end of which you would realize he had been listening to and remembered every word. He chaired the National Executive Committee (NEC) for many years – at a time when such meetings met for a full week. It was in these meetings that the leadership of the ANC had time to debate and re-debate the issues at length, until we were all very clear.

This was because OR wanted members particularly at the leadership level to be thorough and clear on the issues and not discuss them superficially. He was of the view that when the time comes for you to represent the ANC you will not easily go wrong. His rigour stood out: he paid great attention to detail, so if the time came for you to present a report you needed to be very clear on your story because he would question you in detail.

OR Tambo believed unity was paramount. Not just unity of the organization but of the South African people – and he worked tirelessly to achieve it. He was not a man who favoured some above others; and we all took him as our father. I always say that even if someone complained to him about having lost their shoelaces, he would make it an issue that this person’s concerns were addressed. Such was his humility, and his concern for everyone, regardless of rank, position or status. His character and demeanour was such that anyone who had problem felt they could approach him because he would give you his time. No matter what you said, he would not look down on you, and made you feel important. Even if he was walking past you he would stop and pay attention to you – he was that kind of a leader.

It was OR who brought about a political culture of building consensus within the organization, as opposed to simply voting on matters. For him, you couldn’t just meet and discuss the issues – then pass on. It was under his leadership that building consensus emerged as the political culture of the movement. We discussed and discussed sufficiently – and by the time we concluded the issue we are all be on the same page. Namely that you, an individual were wrong, and that the meeting was right.

He was an ordinary leader, but he commanded the respect of the organization. It was not a respect he demanded, but one that came naturally because he gave each and every one his space. Although he was very particular and thorough in planning, in running the organization and in articulating his ideas, he never went out of his way to offend people. He was the consummate diplomat; so much so that even if he said you were wrong you wouldn’t feel hurt because he would explain his position to you in detail. That said, he did not hesitate to enforce party discipline. If you went wrong or were difficult, believe me he would deal with you in a way that you would never want to be difficult again.

Despite his immense responsibilities, he had time for individuals, for the collective, for the organization, and for the world. Such was his stature as an extraordinary statesman of his time that in international conferences when he would be taking the podium, all bilateral consultations would reduce because people would want to come listen to him.

Having visited Zambia recently where we had a ceremony in the home he lived in brought back memories for me of the day OR was attacked by a stroke. I remember the emotional state of all of us, myself included.

I asked myself a question: will the ANC remain the same? This was because I was convinced the ANC would never be the same again. What I believed then still holds true today. We have had many great leaders in the ANC, but OR was a man who exemplified the qualities of extraordinary leadership.

He was a man who believed in nurturing and mentoring young leaders, and did not hesitate to give serious tasks to younger generations. I remember one day discussing the very issue we were sitting in Maputo with him where he said “ this generation has done its job.. we should now allow the young people who have the potential to lead the organization, to do so.”

He drew on his own experience opening a provincial conference in 1969 soon after he had been elected as ANC Deputy President. So thorough and confident was the political analysis of the world that he gave that Chief Luthuli, who was at that conference, made a comment to the effect that elder generation even if they leave today, were leaving the organization in good hands.

If I had to write a letter to OR today I would say: My Leader, My President, I remember you all the time. Today, a century since his birth, I remember OR being a man of

incredible foresight. The other great ANC leader Moses Mabhida used to say that OR saw things years before we did, when we were yet to grasp their significance.

He always told us: the struggle is tough – but rest assured that running a country is even more difficult than fighting for freedom. What some don’t acknowledge often enough is that OR lived during the struggle. He did not live during the period he said would be more difficult than fighting for freedom. He would always say: “it is easy to break bridges when you are fighting the enemy, but when you are free it is your responsibility to build those very bridges.”

This is precisely what we are challenged with as a country today. One’s your values, understanding, everything, is in theory one thing –but putting it into practice can be quite another.

The issue for us is how do we maintain the values we all believe in, and implement them today. The people looked up to us to help liberate them, and how they expect many things from us: and sometimes the means are not there to do it all, or as quickly as they expect you to.

It is at such times that we need to examine the legacy of OR and redouble our efforts in order to succeed.

I would conclude my letter to him by saying that indeed, you were right – running a country is more difficult than fighting for freedom.


Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is the President of the African National Congress


By Precious Banda
This women’s month, we would like to pay tribute to the heroine of our people Dora Tamana. We choose Dora Tamana because she is one of the most outstanding women who contributed in advancing women’s struggles at an epoch when our oppressed people were becoming highly organised and the apartheid oppressive regime even more brutal between the 1940 – 50s. What makes Dora Tamana more outstanding for us is that she was a communist. The observation we make is that communist liberation struggle women unlike their male counterparts are less celebrated and remembered.
We will one day ask the movement as to why there is so little knowledge and political lectures given to young people today on Dora Tamana, Jossie Mpama and many other Communist women who contributed to the liberation of our people. As an aspiring communist young women, our interest is to know women who came before us, their contribution and how they confronted patriarchy in the Party and the movement in general. It is for this reason that we choose to honour Mama Dora Tamana. she is one of the pioneering women who worked very hard and contributed in making the 1956 Women March a success.
What sets Mama Dora Tamana apart is that she had a very difficult upbringing, she had to look out for her siblings at an early age. Even after she got married, her life was that of difficulties having to lose her own kids to death and a husband who abused alcohol. What we learn from her upbringing is that she was resilient. She still managed to stand up and come up with initiatives that don’t only help her but also her community. We learn from her that our past must not determine our future because she chose to stand and fight for herself and her people. Her resilience and perseverance show us that women are indeed the rock a community is built. From a woman who struggled to make ends meet for her family to a leader of community initiatives that provided for many disadvantaged people, this is the Dora Tamana we must all aspire to be.
Our leaders must address the concern our people have of social distance. We often see our leaders reach out to communities only during elections time, conference times or some annual commemoration on our political calendar. Dora Tamana lived and struggled with her people, she led from the front. She believed in education and the welfare of children that’s why she opened a Crèche in her community in 1938 to care for the children. At this time when the masses of our people raise concerns about social distance with the movement and our leaders, we must emulate Dora Tamana and we must all be active participants of community initiatives in the areas we live in and encourage our people to be action oriented.
Mama Dora Tamana was a true activist and an all rounder of all alliance formations, she was a unionist and led workers, she was actively involved in the ANC, she joined the Communist Party at a very young age inspired by the evictions she suffered with her family and community and the need to fight the oppressive regime for dispossessing them. She was a founder member of the federation of South African Women and was elected its first National Secretary in 1954. The FEDSAW Congress in 1954 adopted the Women Charter as a lobbying and guiding document to advance women struggles. They clearly understood that the struggle for freedom had to be fought side by side with the struggle for women emancipation. She believed in the unity of women in advancing their struggle hence she was part of the diverse women and organisations that came together to form the Federation of South African Women.
As a Communist Woman she participated in the ANCWL. What is critical is that she knew that views of the working class and the poor must find expression in the ANCWL. Today women who differ with the posture of the ANCWL disassociate themselves with the organisation of women by saying they cant be members. What must be our attitude is that we must be members of the ANCWL and contest its views in the structures. We must be there in its Congresses and programmes and contend what we disagree with than to give up on the organisation that organises women of our country. It is in its structures where we must interogate the leadership as to whether they are staying true to the mandate underpinned in the aims and objectives of the ANCWL of Dora Tamana. She never gave up on advancing women struggles and that’s why we must never give up on the organisation she helped to shape.
Leaders must always lead from the front. Dora Tamana did just that, she organised her community and women in defiance campaigns against pass laws that limited our people movement in their own Country. She was brave and not a coward who waited for others to act. She was ready for the consequences of the path she had chosen but more determined to end the oppressive regime and its laws. When women were going to Pretoria for the March from Cape Town where she was based, they were inspired by her and they used trains without giving up and they participated in the historic March. Leaders must be able to  inspire others the way Dora Tamana did.
Dora Tamana understood that our struggles are interlinked with all the oppressed people of the world. It is for that reason that herself and other women embarked on an international tour to mobilise support against the oppressive apartheid regime. They enlightened the world about the atrocities of the regime on black people and women in particular. She was an internationalist. When they returned from the international tour, she and five other women were listed under the suppression of Communism Act and in April 1955 she was banned from participating in political gatherings and meetings for five years. In the 1960s she served two jail sentences but she never gave up on the struggle. Even when she suffered poor health she still continued to talk to women at different events and urge them to continue to fight. She passed on in 1983.
Today more than before, we need to ask ourselves whether the struggles that Dora Tamana stood for are being taken forward. She initiated cooperatives because she wanted women to be able to provide for their families through those cooperatives. Dora Tamana stood for oppressed women, the women in the Country side and the deep of villages. She stood for women defranchised by harsh living conditions in townships, the farm worker women who everyday brave the weather to produce for farm owners who continue to dehumanise them, the house helpers who look after homes of their employers for little appreciation, the wife, girlfriend and daughter who has to endure abuse, violence and rape culture, those and many more are women that Dora Tamana stood and fought for. If we believe that we are taking the struggles of our hero forward, we must then ensure we change their living conditions of the downtrodden and defranchised women for the better.
We must also refuse to compound women struggles and emancipation as an event of the month of August. Our struggles are from far and we must continue to fight until we have the ideal society we aspire for. Patriarchy must be confronted daily and in all spaces we occupy. The struggle against Patriarchy and the emancipation of women existed through out the evolution of the liberation movement and we must continue to do so today both in form and content. Long Live the radical undying spirit of Mama Dora Tamana. Malibongwe
Precious Banda is the former Treasurer General of SASCO and member of the YCLSA National Committee and Political Commission


By Nomvula Mokonyane
According to the ‘Women in the Workplace research programme at the University of Johannesburg’, The South African gender pay gap is estimated, on average, to be between 15%-17%. This implies that a South African woman would need to work two months more than a man to earn the equivalent salary that he would earn in a year.
National Bureau of Economic Research says, ‘It takes women 10 more years to earn a man’s pay. If we don’t close the gender wage gap, the typical 20-year-old woman starting full-time work today stands to lose 5 million rands over a 40-year career compared to her male counterpart. When he retires at age 60, she would have to work 10 more years, to age 70, to make up the difference and close this lifetime wage gap. For black women, the lifetime wage gap over a 40-year career totals R10 million. As a result, black women would have to work to age 83, to equal the pay of their male counterparts.
For example, a 2012 US experiment revealed that when presented with identical resumes, one with the name John and one with the name Jennifer, science professors hiring a lab manager offered the male applicant a salary of nearly 50,000 more and also judged John to be significantly more competent. You don’t even have to be human to be valued more highly solely because you are male: A 2014 study found that when a computer was named Julie, users rated its monetary value as 25 percent lower than an identically performing computer named James.
Women are also overrepresented in low-wage jobs. They are about two-thirds of workers in jobs that typically pay less than R150 an hour, even while women are a little less than half the workforce over all. And this too is related to stereotyped perceptions of women’s worth. Gender inequality drags women down. What’s Really Behind Why Women Earn Less Than Men? Once it was because they weren’t as well educated. What’s holding them back now?
The real question is why do we continue shortchanging women?
The reasons given for this pay gap, according to the research, is that women are often seen to be less loyal to the company and more likely to exit the workplace in their childbearing years. Employers may therefore perceive the long-term value that a woman would add to an organisation as lower than that of a man who does not have care obligations outside the workplace.
“Current research continues to find evidence of a motherhood penalty for women and of a marriage premium for men,”. It is said that one of the more significant contributing factor to pay disparity is due to the fact that women are more likely to spend time away from the workforce and are more likely to work truncated schedules as they try to balance both professional and personal priorities, such as caring for children or parents. Its also pointed out that ‘the greater tendency of men to determine the geographic location of the family continues to be a factor even among highly educated couples
Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, the authors of a 2016 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research on wages and occupations from 1980 to 2010 found that as more women attended and graduated college and headed into the working world, education and professional experience levels stopped playing a significant role in the the difference between men and women’s wages. Whatever remains of the discrepancy can’t be explained by women not having basic skills and credentials. So what does explain it? The study points to … wait for it … culture, which continues to favor men’s participation in the workforce and women’s participation on the home front. To maintain these stereotypes at the expense of women is a huge injustice.
On 21 July 2017, After BBC News was forced to release to the public its salary structure, women working at the BBC spoke of the anger and frustration that emerged across all levels of the institution after the disparity in pay between the male and female top earners was revealed. One Female reporter said, “There’s this great myth management promote about treating talent on its separate merits, but it’s all about divide and rule. Now it’s finally been exposed for what it is. A lot of privileged white men giving each other privileged pay. Even without experience.” BBC Women said an angry mood had gripped Broadcasting House this week, where staff were “pissed off” but not surprised by the figures, which showed that only a third of the BBC’s 96 top-earning talent were women and that its seven best-paid stars were all men. South African companies still have huge Gender pay gaps and Media companies are no different.
The NBER research also found that Progress in pay parity has been slower among women in highly skilled professions than those in professions that don’t require a college or graduate degree. The paper notes that this may be because women in high-paying, demanding jobs, like doctors or lawyers, are more harshly penalized for time spent away from the office, and clients. Specifically the penalties for time out of the office are high among those with MBAs and other highly skilled professions.
South Africa will continue to pay the economic price for gender inequality if nothing is done to resolve this issue, says International Labour Organisation (ILO) senior gender specialist Mwila Chigaga. Oxfarm reports that women are the world’s most powerful consumers controlling 65% of Consumer Spending. It is estimated that their incomes will increase from $13 trillion to $18 trillion by 2018. If we continue to shortchange women, we are stifling our economic growth and the full potential of fellow citizen, just because they are a different gender. As a country and the world, we need to move with a greater sense of urgency in addressing gender pay gap, its the injustice of our time.
There is hope though in South Africa. Although on average, Mining and other heavy industries lag behind in terms of gender pay equity, South African services industries are better attuned to the needs of women. These sectors have a high percentage of women employees. More encouraging is that salaries in government are, on average, better for both men and women than similar comparable jobs in the private sector.
We must double our efforts to reverse these imbalances and fulfill the universal suffrage of equal pay for equal work.
Nomvula Mokonyane is a National Executive Committee Member of the African National Congress 


By Lulama Nare

There is a need to change the socialization of society if we are to root out the abuse of women and children in society. Twenty-three-years into democracy and 61 years since the historic women’s march to the Union Buildings, the struggle for equality for South African women remains far from over.

Whilst many milestones have been gained over the course of time since the dawn of democracy, thanks to policies championed by the ANC-led government, to advance the rights of women, including the replacement of oppressive legislation with progressive ones and the introduction of state institutions in support of constitutional democracy such as such as the Commission for Gender Equality, the journey to an equal society is still long.

The recent incidents of gender-based-violence (gbv) that seem to continue unabated are not just a stark reminder of the mammoth task that still lies ahead of us but they pose a real threat to the full realization of a national democratic society as was envisioned by the courageous women of the 1956 generation, such as Mme Ruth Mompati, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi, Albertinah Sisulu and many other others.

In particular, the reporting and coverage of femicide murders is becoming a daily routine in both print and electronic media. Femicide is a global phenomenon and South Africa is not an exception especially to intimate partner killings. What do we understand by intimate Femicide? The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes intimate femicide as “intentional murder of women and girls”. These killings are usually committed by intimate partners or ex-partners, and involve abuse at home.

Other kinds of femicides according to WHO are honour killings (involving a girl or woman being killed by a male or female family member for an actual or assumed sexual or behaviour transgression, including adultery, sexual intercourse or pregnancy outside marriage etc); dowry-related femicide (linked to cultural practices of dowry, It involves newly married women being killed by in–laws over conflicts related to dowry, such as bringing insufficient dowry to the family) and non-intimate femicide (committed by someone without an intimate relationship with the victim). Studies by both the Medical Research Council (MRC) and WHO point to the violent nature of these relationships, which includes sexual violence.

The fact that men continue to be perpetrators of acts of violence against women and children points to the need to change our socialization methods to ensure that we bring up a boy child that will be caring, respects women, girls and human life in general. Socialization processes should include amongst other things addressing issues of patriarchal tendencies and power. Critical social institutions like schools, church, traditional authorities and families should play a greater role in tackling these issues head on and help transform societal attitudes and mind-sets that continue to be reinforced daily through cultural practices, tradition, religion and the media.

It is clear that the education campaigns and programmes such as the 16 Days of Activism have not been adequate to deal with these issues. A new approach that will focus on ensuring that survivors of violence are educated on support services available to them such as safe houses and also targeting perpetrators to open their eyes to the wrongness of their actions and available programmes to assist them to overcome their destructive behaviour is needed. Correctional services programmes on anger management and sexual offenders programme could be utilized to educate perpetrators about their gruesome actions.

The health care system should play a more active role in the prevention of femicide cases by ensuring that health practitioners are more sensitive to victims of gender based violence, after all, research has proven that women who end up becoming victims of femicide do seek the assistance of health practitioners along the way.

Whatever reasons there could be, femicide is unjustifiable. The solution to these kinds of barbaric murders is to educate families about the respect of human rights and foster implementation of criminal justice laws including giving perpetrators long sentences.

For us to achieve a truly free society where women do not live under a cloud of fear for their lives we need to heed the words of President Nelson Mandela in his first State of the Nation Address in 1994 when he stated that “Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression… Our endeavours must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child.”

Lulama Nare is the Commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality


By Naledi Pandor

Women’s month provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our progress towards full gender equality in South Africa. It is a time to celebrate the progressive policy framework that we have put in place to support transformation in South Africa, while acknowledging the challenges that remain.

Today, South Africa has achieved a level of gender equality that has only been accomplished in other countries after many decades of democracy. Our cabinet and legislatures are among the top ten most representative in the world. Four in ten cabinet ministers are women and four in ten national MPs are women. In school girls have equal access to education and are performing at improved levels in many subjects. In higher education women number more than half of the student body. Women make up almost four in ten of the Senior Management Service in the public service and overall women comprise more than half of employees in the Public Service.

Yet the evidence of continuing gender inequality in some of our key institutions of governance and in the private sector clearly indicates that a great deal more has to be done.

How do we in the ANC plan to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making? Women’s participation and leadership in decision-making is of critical importance, both in terms of justice and equality and because the active presence of women has been shown to put gender-specific concerns on the agenda and encourage the monitoring of the implementation of related policies and programmes. Participation is about more than just how many women are present in decision-making forums; it is about the effective articulation of issues that matter to different groups of women. Enabling women’s participation, however, should not lead to women being the only ones responsible for prioritising gender equality concerns. All decision makers, women and men, must take responsibility.

The ANC has put in place an overarching framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality, developed in 2000 by the former Office on the Status of Women (OSW) in the Presidency. In 2009 the OSW was integrated into the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD). In 2014 the DWCPD became the Ministry of Women in the Presidency.

The National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality provides the closest possible platform for gender mainstreaming in the country. The central goal of the policy framework is to achieve gender equality through two policy strategies, namely: women empowerment; and gender mainstreaming. The national policy framework mandates the ministry to be the national coordinating structure at the apex of the gender machinery in the country. The policy framework further tasks ministry to set up a gender management system on the basis of which all institutions charged with women empowerment and gender equality will account.

Therefore, gender focal points in various national line-function Departments and Provincial offices are to account to their respective Ministers and Premiers as well as to the Minister on progress in relation to women empowerment and gender mainstreaming.

In addition, there are other laws that seek to address inequality in the country, such as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA), 2000; and the Employment Equity Act, 1998. However, these laws deal with equality/inequality in a broad sense. For example the PEPUDA deals with all forms of inequality and prohibit all forms of discrimination: race, gender, disability, age, ethnic origin, religious belief. These are laws implementing the equality clause in the Bill of Rights. Studies and our own experience reveal a gap between the existence of rights and their implementation especially for the benefit of poor and rural women.

The 2017 policy conference implicitly asked for a focussed attention on the following issues:

  • Building a broad national women’s movement;
  • Strengthening the gender machinery in government;
  • Ensuring that gender is integrated in all aspects of ANC policies and programmes;
  • Action against violence against women and maintenance violations; and
  • Calling for a gradual review of all discriminatory customs, traditions and other practises that are oppressive to women.

However the struggle is far from over and in some instance there is a backlash against the advances that we have made. For instance, the high level of violence against women, especially domestic, may well be part of men’s resistance to change. We have not as yet gone far in acknowledging and addressing women’s unpaid labour. Sexist attitudes in our society and even within the democratic movement still lag far behind the equality we want. The result is that more women than men are unemployed and women-headed households are generally poorer than men-headed households.

Very wide gaps still exist in ensuring gender mainstreaming in all ANC policies. It’s up to the Women’s League to lead the ongoing struggle for ANC equality policies at home and at work.

Cde Naledi Pandor is a member of the ANC NEC and NWC


By Andiswa Mosai


2017, marks the 61st anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings when women protested against the pass laws which among other things restricted their freedom of movement in the country of their birth. The country that they called their home.

These were difficult times that women today should not to forget as they ponder their future in contemporary South Africa where women are faced with a combination of similar and totally different challenges.

The democratic government led by the ANC declared August as women’s month in recognition and acknowledgement of the contributions made by women of our country towards the attainment of the freedoms we enjoy today.

The struggles pursued by over 20 000 women during the 1956 march and beyond, confirms that women are and have always been an integral part of our societies. Hence Basotho say: “BoMme ba tshwara thipa ka bohaleng”. 

This month we celebrate the lives and times of those who gave of themselves to build a future without the challenges such as those they were faced with. These were women of worth, women who sacrificed the luxury and comfort of their homes and faced the dusty and windy month of August in 1956 for the betterment of the lives and women’s rights we enjoy today.

This year’s women’s month coincides with the similarly important historical celebration of centenary anniversary of the birth of our struggle icon Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.

period in the struggle for human and women’s rights in our country. This period coincides with the

President OR Tambo was hailed by many as an ardent advocate for the struggle for human a rights, a fighter, defender and protector of women’s rights. In his honour and acknowledgement of his contributions in the attainment of the women’s rights and the democracy we enjoy today, our government has since declared this year, The Year of OR Tambo and called upon all of us to work together in fostering unity among all South Africans.

As women, we remember OR Tambo by, among other things, the remarks he made addressing the Conference of the Women’s Section of the ANC in Luanda in September 1981, where he said:

The mobilisation of women is the task, not only of women alone, or of men alone, but of all of us, men and women alike, comrades in struggle. The mobilisation of the people into active resistance and struggle for liberation demands the energies of women no less than of men”.

OR Tambo believed that women have similar responsibilities as men in ensuring that our country was liberated from the bondages of apartheid and racism which confronted women and majority of our people.

Our government has since declared that the 2017 Women’s Month Celebrations will take place under the theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Women united in moving South Africa forward..” This is a visionary statement which given the current challenges facing women in our country today, it is imperative we heed as a clarion call by government.

Women need to come together in the fight against women abuse, gender inequality and patriarchy wherever they are found. We must be the champions of our goals and aspirations. We must collectively work towards ensuring that the discourse about women emancipation and development provides for our mainstream participation in the economy and decision-making processes.

When we continue interrogating and assessing the level of progress made by our government and its agencies tasked with women development and empowerment, ours must not just be about ensuring that critical platforms of decisions making and influence are filled up with women.

Our goal must be a combination of various programme oriented factors which give true effect to women empowerment. These include but not limited to the following:

  • Working together through women formations and all other key stakeholders towards the attainment of the 50/50 representation in all positions of influence and decision making.
  • Ensuring that women are afforded similar capacity building opportunities as their male counterparts.
  • Ensuring that women are drivers of transformation and agents of change on matters that affect them and the general populace
  • Spearheading  campaigns and programmes advocating women’s rights
  • Ensuring that women developmental issues find expression in the integrated development planning processes of government and finally,
  • Ensuring that government service delivery programmes take into consideration the socio-economic issues of women and their need for them to incorporated in economic development

This can be achieved by among others, through various women formations and in our individual capacities, working together with our government and its agencies in ensuring that women developmental and empowerment issues find expression in service delivery planning processes.

The responsibility is now left with us, the current generation of women, to continue with the fight against the barbaric and very brutal acts of abuse and killings of women and children in our communities and the country at large. While calling on the entire society to unite in fighting gender-based violence, we must be the loudest in condemning the killing of women and children in our country.

We must foster working relations with men as we continue to encourage them to stand up and declare that, these barbaric acts, gender violence and children abuse are not in their name.

Just like the 1956 women did to the apartheid government, we must all stand up and say enough is enough. While we must agree that there is good reason to celebrate during the 2017 Women’s Month period, we must as well accept that there is more to be done in order to address these challenges besieging our communities.

The National Development Plan (NDP), South Africa’s vision towards 2030, makes particular commitments in relation to women’s rights and related issues in a number of sections. Women formations all over the country, especially those that are working closely with communities on the ground must work together in ensuring the achievement of the National Development Plan.

Of particular interest must be to ensure that every one of the six priorities stipulated in the NDP which include uniting South Africa around a common programme and re-committing to the values of the Constitution, one being non-sexism, is achieved. The NDP recognises that discrimination, patriarchal attitudes and poor access to quality education persists.

We must continuously teach our girls and young women not to allow themselves to be treated as perpetual dependents whose responsibilities are confined to the kitchen. Similarly, we must work together with our male counterparts in ensuring that they understand this too.

Young women must know that going to school and attaining a qualification which prepares them for entry in the job market must be the first thing they do if we are to be the champions of our struggles as women.

Our young girls and women in general should grow up knowing that the struggle for 50/50 gender parity cannot just be attained if we do not believe that women should work just as hard as men for us to be regarded as equal in all we aspire in life.  Resilient and robust women to the front!

Comrade Andiswa Mosai is the Chairperson of the ANC and ANC WL Lebohang Mahata branches in Midvaal, Sedibeng Region, Gauteng 


By Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

August month, like the month in 1956 that we celebrate each year, has become a hype of women’s mobilization and a festival of ideas on how to advance the struggles against patriarchy and create a better life for all.

The evidence of the positive impact of equality for half the world’s population is becoming overwhelming. When South Africa adopted its own Constitution twenty-one years ago, we cast in stone our commitment to a non-sexist country, for all to be equal before the law.

As we therefore assess the promise of our Constitution, we must debate what more needs to be done to speed up the realization of this promise of true equality.

The need to speed up efforts to emancipate girls and women is being recognized globally.  The United Nations in 2015 concluded that at current pace, it will take us another 70 years to reach gender equality. Thus, a recent International Monetary Fund study on Gender Budgeting in G7 countries recognized that whilst there have been overall improvements in the status of women and girls, significant gaps and exceptions remained. This is in the face of ‘ample demonstration’ of the “macroeconomic gains resulting from gender equality and women’s participation in the labor market.”

Gender budgeting, a key pillar of the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action, is defined as the “use of fiscal policy and fiscal administration to advance gender equality and women’s development.” The policy side looks at taxes and expenditure to increase women’s incomes, and participation in the economy and labour market, access to assets, improve family benefits and subsidize child-care. From a tax perspective, this as a rule includes abolishing taxes that see (married) women’s incomes as “secondary” and more recently tax breaks for single parents.

Australia was the first country to introduce gender budgeting, followed by South Africa (as a civil society initiative), Uganda and Tanzania. Today, many African countries have adopted some form of gender-budgeting. The South Africa civil society programme, called the Women’s Budget Initiative (WBI) ran from 1996-1999. The WBI championed gender disaggregated statistics, and programmes focusing on women (2).

However, although women’s empowerment is an overarching policy goal of the South African government since 1994, gender budgeting has not been integrated as a policy instrument.

Responsive institutions

What is interesting in the current debate about Gender budgeting is the focus on the institutional framework for gender-responsive fiscal policy. It recognizes the need for explicit gender budget statements and auditing. For example, in the budget of the South African Police Services, how does the department seeks to advance gender equality in the allocation of its resources – the composition of its personnel, towards combatting gender-based violence, and so forth?

The aim of gender budgeting as a tool in the end is to ensure gender equality, using fiscal tools. Thus, it needs to be integrated throughout government, in all departments. Gender equality requires interventions in the economy to facilitate women’s access to jobs, capital, assets, professional and managerial positions, as well as subsidized childcare, maternity leave and equal pay for equal work. This is a key component of economic transformation.

As we therefore discuss infrastructure development, the development of the maritime economy, agriculture and land reform, mineral beneficiation, we must use the instrument of gender-budgeting to ensure that women are not left behind.

We can learn from other countries. During the term of Minister Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as Finance Minister of Nigeria, she used the budgets target of at least 30% of the fiscus towards women, to reward departments that reach this goal. The departments of Health, Agriculture, Public Works, Communications and Technology, and Water Resources were further singled out, given their impact on women’s lives. In Agriculture, for example, a programme of training and to give women farmers’ access to technology and finance to buy inputs was introduced and in Public Works, 1500 women trained in road maintenance. (4)

In Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, where gender-budgeting and auditing are in response to directives on government priorities on women’s empowerment, there are greater integration of this perspective across government departments and spheres.

It can also not be taken for granted that public servants know how to do gender budgeting, implementation and auditing. The Government of India, for its gender-budgeting (2016-2018) invests considerable resources into training of public servants, civil society, as well as communities (5). In one of its brochures, it answers frequently asked questions such as: what is gender mainstreaming, and the difference between gender equality and gender equity.

Gender budgeting and the developmental state

A developmental state is fundamentally about transforming the socio-economic landscape of the country and its peoples. The focus on women and girls therefore make sense from a rights perspective, as well as from an equality and efficiency perspective.

As an instrument, gender budgeting provides for greater clarity on what needs to be done to translate the promises of equality in our Constitution into tangible outcomes, which can be measured in programmes implemented, resources spent and the impact on the lives of women and girls.


Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a member of the ANC National Executive Committee

1) “Gender budgeting in G7 Countries. International Monetary Fund, April 2017.
2) “Empowerment Case Studies: Women’s Budget Initiative—South Africa”. Case study prepared by Prof. Deepti Bhatnagar and Ankita Dewan at the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) and Magüi Moreno Torres and Parameeta Kanungo at the World Bank (Washington DC). http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTEMPOWERMENT/Resources/14659_S-Afr-Wmn-Budg-web.pdf.
3) Doing More with Less: A South African Gender Budget Analysis for Health, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Energy and Trade and Industry (2012/13). Motsepe Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Women. http://www.women.gov.za/attachments/article/14/GRB%20-%202013%20Report%20(Final).pdf
4) “Sub-Saharan Africa: A Survey of Gender Budgeting Efforts”. By Janet G. Stotsky, Lisa Kolovich, and Suhaib Kebhaj. IMF Working Paper WP/16/152, July 2016.
5) “Gender Budgeting. Frequently Asked Questions.” Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development. http://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/GB%20Flyer.pdf


By Maropene Ramokgopa

Our country has gone through a number of transitional integration phases that have given the democratically elected government of the ANC impetus to appreciate and seek to fast track gender equality in South Africa.  A number of concepts were developed to channel the energy of bringing to consolidation the fruits of the new democratic dispensation such as women emancipation and gender mainstreaming. The struggle that remains constant is how, when, why and where do we locate the precise level in sectors of society be it, economic, social institution or household, in the monitoring of progress of gender equality.

Philosophers have stressed in one way or another, that the progress of any development in a nation cannot be fulfilled without its character being reflected in the standard of living of its women as a group in society. It is no surprise that the African National Congress as a leader of the National Democratic Revolution, couldn’t envision its objective’s logical conclusion without reflecting on a non-sexist society.

A world-renowned author, motivational speaker, Founder and Chief Lecturer of Vedanta Academy in India – a globally leading movement in matters of self-management and leadership –  Swamiji Parthasarathy once said “Not until you learn to ignore the question of gender and to meet in a common ground of common humanity, will your woman really develop”. He has extensively written and shared in his lectures that indeed, our progress in life as society, depends mainly on how we treat women around us.

It is an undeniable fact that a lot of strides have been made and must be celebrated as it relates to the numbers of women in leadership and occupying strategic positions of power . To be specific in the pre democratic era, women representation in parliament was 27 % and in 1994, at the dawn of the democratic dispensation, this representation showed a rise to 33%.  South Africa is currently ranked high globally and in third place in Africa with over 40% of parliamentarians being female. However, much still remains to be done in the other sectors of society, as to ensure congruence of growth and progress in both the elite structure and grass roots women as it relates to socio economic emancipation.

We have in the past witnessed a deliberate feminisation of poverty that was institutionalised at the same rate as the racialisation of poverty in South Africa. This found greater expression in the  rural areas and areas that were previously reserved for Black and African people. We must relocate the effort put in elitism of gender equity, to meeting on common ground of common humanity as said by Swamiji of Vedanta movement,  in order to decrease the domination of  those efforts to the upper strata of society that constitutes a minute percentage of women as a group in general. This will have a direct impact to women emancipation across all levels of society. Most especially in consideration of the fact that gender relations as a concept, is a societal construct, therefore cannot be engaged in a vacuum from stratification elements of its whole.

It will indeed be disingenuous to suggest that there is no effort and progress in total emancipation of women, in terms of legislation. In 1996, the ANC in government ensured that the right to reproductive process for women is formally enshrined in our constitution.The Chapter 9 institutions in the Constitution, Employment Equity legislation  as well as the establishment of the Women’s Ministry located in the Presidency are further evidence of these advances.

However, we must guard against social inequality lagging behind legislation. The role and programs of these institutions  must be inundated solely with reacting to gender based violence or general patriarchal based corporate or political career progression.  They must ensure they put in place systems in society as a construct, that will erode any form and element of gender inequality. Women of all ages, strata, race or creed must where necessary access deliberate support in order to develop themselves to stand ready to take up opportunities presented by our government initiated programs.  This should be a constant and deliberate action with clear objectives.

Some of the already direct and unambiguous programs to be adopted and domesticated as it relates to direct and deliberate intervention are principles such as those found in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Basic principles such as women health and education.

We should also acknowledge that “gender like race, is socially constructed with rights, access to resources, power participation in public life and it is in the main interpreted through cultural lens”

There are a number of school of thoughts (whether right or wrong) as it relates to Feminism as a concept. There are those who perceive this concept as competition or battle for dominance between men and women, some see it as a way of  fighting for equality and others see it as a mechanism of reversing the injustices of the past and to a certain degree of the current injustices, most especially social injustices.  There are those who also see it as a way of engineering a methodology that can change how opposite genders relate or engage in society to the redistribution of resources and roles in general.

In my experience, that must include excusing my ignorance, feminism is necessary to transform society as a whole not only by institutionalised forms through legislative processes, but equally social transformation from the all levels.  This will reflect the view held by some gender activists including myself, that seeks to suggest that , emancipation of men and women equally from socialization that defines the current gender roles in society,  will in essence eradicate any form of dominance by any group, in-terms of equal access to opportunities and a better way of life.

Women emancipation is a form of co-operation and most definitely in the words reflecting on the teaching of  Swamiji , a common ground of common humanity concept. We know it better as Ubuntu/Botho.

As a diplomat representing South Africa in India and as a deployee of the African National Congress in the diplomatic/ Consular Corps, I have observed a number of commonalities and  few differences in how different societies globally engage with issues of gender equality and women emancipation in particular. The common denominator in discriminatory behaviours is usually the belief systems that can be characterised as culture and religion.

Some of these commonalities are evident in how culture informs many activities in our society, including commerce, social and political processes. In international management theory offered in various Masters in Business Management courses, culture which is derived at times from religion and tradition carries a lot of load in decision making and engagement of investors in their host countries.

This is one way of proving that culture has a lot of impact in how we operate and view things in society.  It is in this regard that I am convinced that any form of dominance as it relates to race, class or gender, has got a lot of its principles rooted in socialisation inculcated through belief systems. Culture and religion remains the essence of human nature of relations and the anchor of our being, but if not carefully inculcated in the construct of society, it can be detrimental to human progress. We must note that cultural practices that are impeding on the rights of women in particular, are not only embraced by men but they are also embraced by other women. Most especially older generation of women.

As a result of this social construct and different stratum in it, it is important to note that the deficiency witnessed in balancing socially based inequalities, that usually has its glaring ugly face in the lowest strata of society be a reason for regression of the united gender struggle movement. We must remain vigilant not to allow the achievements and successes such as of being ranked 3rd in representation of women in the arm of our legislature in the state to become a mere drop of hot water in an ocean of a cold water. An unintended consequence may develop and the remanence part of it will definitely be social distance and very high levels of inequality in a group of society that is supposed to join hands in their own emancipation.

These unavoidable realities will definitely breed differences in how women may view what represents them as a group and action to be taken to forge a united struggle against patriarchal society. This may eventually have an impact on our movement’s efforts to achieving a non-sexist society. Analysing common ground and common humanity is the only tool that can change history and give us an opportunity to achieve a just and equal society, were humanity outside of gender, class of race defines how people relate.

The African National Congress as a leader of the mass democratic movement, the national democratic revolution and a leader of broader society, must ensure that its approach on achieving a non-sexist society is concerned more with non-elitist solutions and embrace the fact that human rights and women emancipation are congruous in all forms, context and concept.  Although strategic positions of  power are important and can easily be achieved through a decree of a quota systems, they must not replace the appreciation of what gender equality really means.

Ours, as liberation movement, is to lead society as a whole. We don’t exist for ourselves as an organisation but we exist for society as its leader.

As we enter into women’s month programs in our beloved country, commemorating the 1956 Women’ march against pass laws and apartheid era,  lest we forget, we must be resolute in what is to be done and how it should be done. The future is ours to mould, the present is for us to take charge of and history remains our constant lesson. We should be inspired by the precision in thought, objective and execution from the women of the generation of 1956. Their effort and unity of purpose became the labour ward of the freedom of our people and hope of achieving a national democratic society, which will characterise a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society.

We salute the generation of 1956 and the fighting spirit of the generation of Comrade Mme Charlotte Maxeke, in whose footsteps the 1956 generation followed. She was part of the first anti- pass movement organisers that mobilised people for a march in 1913 against the apartheid regime. As one of the feminists and gender activist ancestors of our national democratic revolution, we continue to be inspired by her for she broke barriers imposed by a patriarchal society, but most of all, her efforts, and acquired skill, was mostly seen in the development of the grass roots levels of our people.


Comrade Maropene Ramokgopa is  a member of the ANC, ANC WL and former NEC member of the ANCYL. She is deployed as Consul General of RSA in Mumbai, India  and writes in her personal capacity


By Bathabile Dlamini

It was following the dawn of our democracy that South Africa started to acknowledge and celebrate the role of women in the struggle for freedom through the women’s month.  This year, 2017, marks the 61st Anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings against pass laws. The march was preceded by months of preparation and build up; the women of South Africa including blacks, whites, coloureds and Indians, joined forces and marched on the Union Buildings which marked the biggest mobilisation of women in South Africa. Around 20 000 women joined this anti-pass march at the point when women decisively began to change the political landscape of the country. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication by some of the great women of the ANC Women’s League including Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Dorothy Nyembe, Sophie du Bruyn, Ray Alexander and Rahima Moosa,  to mention a few.

Our understanding is that the march to the Union Buildings in 1956, by 20 000 women, was also about challenging an oppressive system that sought to deepen the inequalities in terms of race and gender which contributed to the current triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty which burden women the most. Therefore when women of South Africa converged at the Union Buildings sixty one (61) years ago, from every corner of South Africa, they created an enduring legacy of our country’s history.  It was the dedication and tenacity of these women that paved the way for a new South Africa embedded on the principles of non-sexism and equality

The women’s month pays homage not only to the women of 1956 but stands to acknowledge the women of our country who emerged as primary catalysts for protests against and as agitators of the apartheid regime since the turn of the century. As we celebrate the 61st anniversary of the women’s march of 1956, we need to recognize all stalwarts that confronted colonialism, apartheid, pass laws, land dispossession and others.  Our celebrations of the 61st Anniversary of the women’s march must also acknowledge the role women played in the history of South Africa. This cannot be complete until we take the journey from the era of Charlotte Maxeke’s, Lillian Ngoyi, Winnie Mandela etc. through to 1956 and to date.

Subsequent to the unbanning of political organisations, women committed to the emancipation of women and facilitated the representation of women in the leadership positions within the ANC and for women be treated as equals to men. With the dissolution of apartheid it gave women the opportunity to focus on the gender struggle directly.

During the negotiations for democracy, women drew on their experience of the years of struggle and were able to ensure a high proportion of women in parliament, influence the country’s constitution, and advocate the establishment of state machinery to mainstream gender equality. However, in the post-apartheid era of reconstruction and development, both the demobilisation of protest movements and the emphasis on the technical aspects of development stand in the way of gender mainstreaming through the state.

In the advent of democracy and the creation of our constitution and laws, women have made many gains. We have one of the most gender sensitive and liberal constitutions in the world. Women have also been integral in the development of laws that protect the rights of women and children such as the Domestic Violence Act, and laws that pertain to sexual offenses and the protection of children. At the 2007 ANC conference in Polokwane women fought for 50-50 gender parity on all ANC Structures and this time the position of women was adopted by the conference. The conference took a resolution on the establishment of a Women’s ministry.

As we celebrate the women’s month we also have to review and quantify progress in improving the quality of life of our women in general. This should also mark our advance to the second phase of our transition within the context of Radical Transformation of Women’s Socio-Economic Rights, which emphasizes economic liberation as the necessary site of struggle for women. During this phase we have to ensure that all our policies and programmes emphasize the urgency of tackling the triple resilient challenges faced by women.

Women at the 5th ANC National Policy Conference identified gender based violence, land re-distribution, monopoly capital, inclusion of women in positions of power and economic transformation as interconnected hindrances towards total emancipation of our women.

We noted the deliberations and characterisation of Gender Based Violence (GBV) by the National Policy Conference as well as the assessment of progress made by the democratic government since 1994 in its work towards eliminating gender-based violence. However, we have further noted that women continue to face high levels of gender-based violence and discrimination.

Therefore we must find lasting solutions to the scourge and our efforts must resume with a campaign for acts of domestic violence to be registered as crimes in the justice system. Neighbourhood watch structures in all wards and the creation of partnerships with in victim empowerment centres in support of GBV victims, and to reduce the withdrawal of gender-based violence cases in courts must be established. We need to also emphasize the development and implementation of strict legislation and increase human personnel (inspectors) to prevent human trafficking, and initiate pointed community awareness campaigns on the prevention of human trafficking and the elimination of child-prostitution.

The posture in which the debates on land issues adopted was gravely concerning. The land clause in the constitution is the only clause that has a year as a time frame for land claims. Our land was invaded long before the 1913 Land Act. The ANC National Policy Conference has acknowledged that the land issue in South Africa constitutes the core of the struggle for the political, economic and social emancipation of the people of South Africa, and of women, in particular. Therefore we must ensure that the reviewal process of the 1913 Land Act should ensure that women access productive agricultural land that will sustain their livelihoods, and that adequate mentoring programmes are provided to women who were given land by government.

The triple exploitation of women in society has been reduced but not yet eliminated and that poverty, unemployment and inequality affect women the most and have been identified by the ANC as serious impediment to radical transformation. Whilst the mainstream economy still continues to be dominated by men, women continue to play in the informal space.  However, there has been marginal improvement in the state of entrepreneurship among women; nevertheless much more needs to be done.

The implementation of radical economic transformation should also advance provision of social services. Free quality social services must include (but not limited to):

  1. Free and compulsory quality education for children of the poor and working class from early childhood development to undergraduate level.  Gender equality, history and entrepreneurship forming part of compulsory curriculum.
  2. Intensify roll-out of National Health Insurance to achieve the provision of free and quality healthcare.
  3. Eradicate apartheid spatial planning which settles black people in the outskirts of the major economic areas and provide quality housing and community infrastructure.
  4. Reliable and affordable basic services such as clean water, sanitation and electricity.
  5. Reliable, affordable and safe public transport.

The ANC inherited a government characterised with difficulties.  Elements of the state that are the foundation of our development have not been given full attention over executive, legislature and the judiciary which were built on shaky ground. These are institutions that bring about structural change. This is an agonizing state of affairs as the democratic government had to learn from experience.

Should we fail to bring about radical change in these institutions based on the history of our country and the atrocities that where inflicted by colonialism to our people we would have failed our people. Our positive posture has given space to monopoly capital. They have invaded the space in civil society that was jealously guarded by the toiling masses of our country. They even have the audacity to dictate who should be elected, who is going to be their darling, who will protect their status quo, who must be a minister and so-on by utilising media as their tool of persuasion.

They have been fighting from all fronts to protect their profits and they are sharing platforms with well-respected comrades who have been better placed to define and characterise the present epoch. No one has come out clearly to ask a question about how we must establish an undiluted people’s government that is ready to change the quality of lives of our people.

Progressive strides have been taken during this period of our democracy, more particularly access to resources. A lot has also happened to perpetuate corruption, dysfunctional and weak families, sharing of our communities with criminals, acceptance of patronage from criminals, violence against women and children. Everything monopoly capital stands for is patriarchal and women need to take active leadership in society and the country at large. The casualties of dubious actions by monopoly capital are single parents who are mostly women and the working class that is not sure of the future of its children.

One of the success stories of our democracy is the inclusion and representation of women in political and decision-making positions. Involving women in governance processes constitutes one of South Africa’s globally acclaimed success stories of our country. We need to acknowledge that South Africa as a country, if not the African National Congress as a political party, has been committed to the capacity building of women by ensuring inclusion of women in legislatures, in executive positions and in the judiciary bodies. South Africa has good legislation that ensures women are included in positions of power whilst other countries continue to exclude women through the ineffective zebra system. As a country we can pride ourselves in having institutions such as the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and Human Right Commission (HRC) who safeguard the rights of women together with the Women’s Ministry in the Presidency. The ANC Women’s League continues to lead society in championing the issues of women emancipation.

President General of the ANC, John Langalibalele Dube had confidence in the women leadership and we can attest to that with the fact that his tenure was inclusive of women. Cde Oliver Tambo further advanced the agenda of women emancipation by forming a committee on women emancipation, guided by the ANC on issues of gender equality and the struggle for women’s rights. The ANC has continually taken women issues to centre stage and provided leadership to society with regards to women empowerment. Therefore, it remains the duty of the current leadership to ensure that the agenda of women emancipation does not fall by wayside, particularly for women who still need access to resources.

In the year that we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Cde Oliver Tambo, let us honour his legacy in women emancipation by ensuring that women who have capacity to lead are elected in the upcoming conference of the ANC and beyond.

Happy Women’s Month to all the women of our country.

Cde Bathabile Dlamini is the President of the ANC Women’s League and member of the ANC NEC