Women, Children and People with Disabilities: Minister's Budget Speech
7 Jun 2011
It is with great honour that I present the Budget Vote for the department.
We are presenting this Budget Vote at a time when our country is mourning the passing away of the icon of our struggle for liberation, gender equality and children’s rights - Albertina Sisulu. Ma Sisulu dedicated all her life to the African National Congress (ANC), the ANC Women’s League and to the people and children of South Africa, ushering in the constitutional democracy that we all enjoy today. We today pay tribute to this selfless leader who endured severe hardship fighting for our liberation and basic human rights.
As we debate this vote, we should remember the dedication of Mama Sisulu to the struggle for gender equality and the protection of the rights of children in particular. Even in the last years of her life, she still dedicated her birthday, 21 October, to raise funds for the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation. And last year, this department supported her at that special occasion.
We therefore deem it fit to dedicate this budget debate to Albertina Sisulu. Lala ngoxolo Mama. Ugqatso ulufezile. Wena ubuliqhawekazi lesizwe.
Building departmental capacity
When I assumed office in November last year, I committed that my immediate task would be to build capacity in this department. I am happy to report that we have made progress in this regard over the past seven months. We now have a Director-General and a Deputy Director-General responsible for disability and children’s rights and Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services. The process is underway to recruit the Deputy Director-General responsible for women empowerment and gender equality. All these appointments complete the top management structure of the department.
We have also appointed the Chief Financial Officer who is now responsible for strengthening our accountability and financial management system. Other key appointments already made include the head of research who will assist in establishing base line data and conducting the necessary research within the sectors. The legal services is already working on the Gender Equality Bill. Other key positions relating to advocacy, mainstreaming and capacity building for all three sectors are being filled.
Chairperson, this is the first full year cycle that the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities will be accounting to Parliament independent of the Presidency. For the first time since the establishment of this department, we have tabled our strategic plan in Parliament on 9 March 2011. The plan clearly elaborates the focus of the department which will be mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation as well as capacity building for the three sectors. Later this year, we will also for the first time table our annual report for the 2010/11 financial year.
We are committed to excellence in serving women, children and people with disability. However, the very limited and inadequate budget remains a major challenge for us to respond adequately to the vast and desperate needs of women, children and people with disabilities across the country. We have compiled a submission to Treasury costing all the tasks we have to perform in line with our mandate.
Discussions are underway in an effort to improve the current budget allocation of R117 million, with R55 million of which is a transfer to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). The ad hoc committee formed by this House has looked at the reports of the Auditor General, Public Protector and Treasury with regard to the CGE and has made its recommendations to Parliament. We await the guidance of Parliament on this matter and its broader consideration of Chapter 9 institutions report by Kader Asmal Commission.
Empowerment of women
Chairperson, our country is grappling with the challenge of unemployment and poverty. As we seek solutions to this challenge, we have to acknowledge that women constitute the majority of the unemployed and the rural poor in this country.
As part of our first quarter plans for 2011/12 we held a national Rural Women’s Summit in Limpopo last month through which we provided a platform for sharing information on how to access various programmes provided by departments involved in the development of the rural poor.
Representatives of women from across our country outlined the challenges they face as lack of access to land and water for them to initiate their development projects. Those who have secured land want developmental finance and access to markets for their produce. They also want skills development programmes that will enable them to improve their produce and achieve sustainable livelihood where they live.
We will be working with the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform as well as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to ensure that the aspirations of rural women are integrated into the Rural Development Strategy. Women want opportunities to develop themselves. During the summit, we visited a number of development projects run by women in Tzaneen. With the support of government, these women are running successful farms, mining as well as arts and crafts projects, employing a number of people and their products are sold in various parts of our country and in foreign markets.
As the late comrade Oliver Tambo said and I quote: "If we are to engage our full potential in pursuit of revolutionary goals, then, as revolutionaries, we should stop pretending that women…have the same opportunities as men."
We are engaging with the New Growth Path to highlight the heavy impact of unemployment on women and people with disabilities. We are developing a barometer to measure the number of women who will benefit from the five million jobs that we seek to create in the next 10 years. We have to start with the R9 billion allocated for job creation and ensure that a predetermined percentage of it is dedicated to jobs for women. We will also ensure that women participate in the Green Economy projects in the country.
Constituting more than 50% of the population, women remain severely underrepresented in decision making positions. Women constitute less than 10% of CEOs and chairpersons of boards of companies listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). They only hold less than 16% of directorship and 21% of executive management positions.
The number of better performing companies with 25% or more women directors and executive managers continues to decrease from 58 in 2008 to 37 companies in 2010. We still have 27 JSE-listed companies without even a single woman at directorship or executive management level. One example is Checkers which does not have a single woman in its board despite the vast majority of its customers and workers being women.
Clearly there is an urgent need for extra measures to be taken to hasten the process of transformation and empowerment of women. We have to find measures to address this abnormality which is a major indictment on transformation as far as it relates to women in South Africa.
We are working on the Gender Equality Bill which will provide us with the necessary legislative authority to hasten the empowerment of women and address issues of enforcement and compliance towards the attainment of our target of 50/50 gender parity.
The process of consultation with civil society and other stakeholder on the Bill is underway which we expect to culminate at the National Women’s conference to be held later this year. The final Draft Bill will thereafter be submitted to Cabinet for approval by March 2012.
The enactment of the Gender Equality Bill will lead to systemic improvements for women and facilitate the attainment of gender equality. We hope that it will empower us to deal with such developments as the appointment of an all-male cabinet in the Western Cape government. This latest appointment is a demonstration of political arrogance of the Democratic Alliance (DA). Premier Helen Zille is actually telling the women of the Western Cape that no woman in this province is capable of being in the provincial government other than her.
Socio-economic participation for people with disabilities
Chairperson, when addressing a junior wheelchair championship in 1995, our first democratic President, President Nelson Mandela said and I quote: “The new South Africa we are building should be accessible and open to everyone. We must see to it that we remove the obstacles, whether they stem from poor access to facilities; poor education; lack of transport; lack of funding or unavailability of equipment. Only then will the rights of disabled to equal opportunities become a reality.”
These words by President Mandela remain true today. People with disabilities face the stiffest obstacles towards socio-economic participation than any other section of our population. The many challenges faced by people with disabilities include lack of access to economic opportunities, transport, education and health services including assistive devices. We still have cases of discrimination and violation of rights of people with disabilities.
To respond to these challenges, the department will focus on improving access to education through the promotion of the inclusive education policy. We have to promote integration of children with special needs into the mainstream school while acknowledging that children with severe disabilities will still need special schools.
Following the incidents of abuse that we dealt with at schools such as Philadelphia and Phelang over the last year, we have decided to conduct an audit of all special schools in the country. This audit should provide information on the state of each of these schools and inform appropriate interventions that have to be made to enhance the learning environment for children using these facilities.
Transport remains a major barrier limiting participation of people with disabilities in social, educational and economic activities. We will work together with the Department of Transport to ensure that our public transport strategy and initiatives respond to the transport needs of people with disabilities including standardisation of designated parking. Our task as the department will be to monitor that all of the developments in the transport sector do integrate disability consideration.
The department will develop and implement the National Accessibility campaign which will focus on areas such as reasonable accommodation at the work place, accessibility of buildings where government services are provided, promotion of Braille, sign language and other accessible communication formats and access to assistive devices and disability grants. This campaign will be aimed at promoting equalisation of opportunities for people with disabilities.
We are very concerned with the continued failure of both the public and private sector to advance towards the target of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities with our country standing at 0.9% in 2010.The last report of the Employment Equity Commission indicates that government is trailing behind the private sector with regard to employment of persons with disabilities. People with disabilities constituted 0.6% of state employees while the private sector was at 1%.
In line with our mandate of mainstreaming and oversight, the department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities will ensure that each government department commits to clear milestones towards the attainment of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities. Each department or sphere of government is going to be held accountable for this target.
We have to encourage the private sector to continue to increase the number of employees with disabilities. We also have to work towards the attainment of the 4% target for skills development and 5% for procurement that needs to benefit people with disabilities. We encourage innovative projects such as the partnership between the South African Disability Development Trust and the Warehouse & Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) which provides learnerships for disabled people. Many of the people they trained have found permanent employment in various companies in this sector.
The Airport Company of South Africa which is our long standing partner in the delivery of assistive devices and other initiatives to empower people with disabilities is here with us today. We appreciate your support and commitment.
Violence against women and children
Chairperson, women and children of our country continue to be ravaged by the scourge of violence including rape and murder. Everyday, we receive reports of horrendous attacks on children and women including the rape and murder of lesbian women in the so-called corrective rape. Chair there is nothing like corrective rape. This is the horrendous crime of rape and a violation of people’s right to choose their sexual orientation as stipulated in the country’s Constitution.
This has serious implications for our nation. Gender based violence has severe and long lasting impact on victims including serious mental health problems and the risk of subsequent victimisation; gynaecological complications, unwanted pregnancies, HIV infection; serious physical injuries or disability and ultimately, death. Consequences of gender based violence are not only limited to a person who experiences it, but also those who witness it, in particular children. It undermines the dignity, autonomy and security of the victims; and the overall social and economic development of the entire society, thereby re-enforcing gender in-equalities.
The numbers and severity of cases require that we take extra measures to reverse the tide of violence against women and children in our country. Acknowledging the magnitude and complexity of the factors driving this scourge, we are establishing an Advisory Council on Violence against Women and Children.
The advisory council will comprise of key government departments, civil society organisations and other relevant partners and it will coordinate the implementation of the 365 days National Plan of Action to End Violence against Women and Children. It is going to coordinate the various commendable initiatives implemented by various government departments, civil society and other sectors to stop this scourge.
In line with the directive of his Excellency President Jacob Zuma to make crimes against women and children a priority, the South African Police Services has strengthened its capacity to deal with these cases. Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units have been established in all 176 policing areas. Police officers have been trained to deal with these cases with the sensitivity they deserve. Forensic social workers are hired to assist child victims in particular to submit evidence necessary to support conviction.
At least 28 Thuthuzela care centres have been established in various areas with high incidents of violence against women and children in the country. These are one stop centres where rape victims can lodge a case with the police and receive counselling and medical care including prevention of HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy. The Thuthuzela approach has been commended by the United Nations Secretary General and adopted by a number of countries in Africa and other regions.
During this year, we will be focusing on promoting the Domestic Violence Act to empower victims of violence and communities to use this Act to prevent cases of abuse. We will be mobilising women to ensure that they do not withdraw cases of abuse but allow the law to take its course.
We are encouraged by the firm sentences that are being handed down in many of these cases which indicate that our courts support the spirit of the Minimum Sentences Act. A life sentence for each of the 13 murders plus 208 years for robbery given to a serial killer who murdered and robbed 13 women in Umzinto in KwaZulu-Natal is a good example of how our courts are dealing with these cases.
Rapists and perpetrators of violence against women and children have no place in our society. Hence we are calling upon our courts to deny bail for suspects charged with rape and murder of women and children. The Criminal Procedure Act outlines the factors that the court must take into account before granting bail.
- the degree of violence towards others implicit in the charge against the accused;
- any threat of violence which the accused may have made to any person;
- any resentment the accused is alleged to harbour against any person;
- any disposition to violence on the part of the accused, as is evident from past conduct;
- the prevalence of a particular type of offence;
All of these factors are there in almost every case of rape and murder of children.
Yesterday, we concluded yet another successful Child Protection Week campaign. During this week, we worked with the Department of Social Development, SAPS civil society and other players to increase awareness amongst communities of the right of children to be protected from all undesirable behaviour and situations.
Some key activities for this week included the national launch of the Early Childhood Development programme and efforts to respond to the plight of children living in the streets. The Child Protection week, which includes the observation of International Children’s Day on 1 June is a national campaign that ensures that all South Africans work together to protect and promote the well-being of children in our society.
Our country has a strong legislative framework protecting the rights of children. As the department, we will monitor the implementation of all these laws including the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act. We have other laws to protect our children against sexual assaults, child pornography and other forms of exploitation. We must implement them effectively.
We also know that many girl children from indigent households miss more than 40 days of learning each academic year because of lack of access to sanitary towels. During National Children’s Day, we launched the Sanitary Dignity campaign through which we seek to mobilise resources for delivery of sanitary towels to these learners, indigent women and children with disabilities.
Compliance with protocols on gender, child rights and disability
This department is required to report and participate on behalf of South Africa (SA) at regional and international forums relating to women, children’s rights and people with disabilities.
Through this international work, we seek to influence the global agenda on issues relating to the three sectors and profile progress that South Africa is making in protecting the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.
The report on our participation at the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year provides a synthesis of our engagements and discussions covering the five themes of the session and detailed implications for South Africa’s national agenda to empower women and attain gender equality.
Based on the priority theme of the session focusing on science and technology, we presented SA’s innovative programme – Techno Girls - aimed at encouraging girls to study and pursue careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering. Following our engagements with the main partner, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), we have decided that the project be expanded to all provinces.
We were commended for the significant advances that South Africa has made on representation of women in political decision making positions, access to education and health, particularly our response to HIV and AIDS. Concerns were raised on the high levels of violence against women and children in the country.
We also presented the country report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to the CEDAW Committee in Geneva. The conclusions and recommendations of the Committee are going to be incorporated into our national programmes to address challenges facing women and girls.
During this financial year, we will also work together with the disability sector to finalise and submit the country report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and participate at the Conference of State Parties on this UN Convention.
As part of our consultation with the disability sector in particular, the department will hold a National Summit on Disability during this financial year to discuss the implementation plan for the domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This summit will also discuss the National Disability Policy that will strengthen our collaborative efforts to address the challenges facing people with disabilities.
I would like to thank my colleagues in Cabinet for your cooperation in our effort to coordinate the response of government to the varying needs of women, children and people with disabilities.
I thank the Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities for continued engagement with the department towards the attainment of our mandate.
I would like to thank all the distinguished guests representing various stakeholders in the sectors of gender, child rights and disability. These stakeholders include focal points in various departments and spheres of government, civil society organisations, private sector and various developmental partners. I would like to highlight in particular, the strong collaboration and support from the UN Agencies in the implementation of our programmes.
I also thank the CGE, Non-Governmental Organisations and the women’s movement whose contribution has made an impact on the work of this department.
Last but not least, I thank the Director-General and the staff of the department who have worked tirelessly in strengthening the capacity of this institution while at the same time responding to the urgent challenges facing women, children and people with disabilities in our country.
As the generation of Mama Albertina Sisulu said in their petition at the historic Women’s March of 1956 and I quote: “We shall not rest until we have won for our children their fundamental rights of freedom, justice, and security”
Issued by: Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities
7 Jun 2011
NCOP Budget Speech
Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities
21 June 2011
It is a great honour for me to present the budget vote of the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities to the National Council of Provinces.
The core-function of our Department is the mainstreaming of gender, disability and children’s rights considerations into all programmes of government and the rest of society. We are responsible for monitoring and evaluating and coordination of programmes for protection and promotion of rights of the three sectors.
While we monitor gender, disability and children’s rights considerations in all the 12 outcome areas of Government, the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities has been assigned to support the attainment of at least three of these outcomes. These are:
Long and healthy life for all South Africans
Support an inclusive growth path
And an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship
Chairperson, poverty continues to bear a disproportionately female face. Maternal and child mortality are at a high level and women are more likely to be infected with HIV and affected by AIDS than men. We are working with the Department of Health to ensure that Government delivers on this key outcome area of a long and healthy life for all South Africans. We support the HIV testing initiative as well as the programme for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV to create an HIV free generation.
During the National Children’s Day in North West, we launched the Sanitary Dignity Campaign which seeks to mobilize resources for delivery of sanitary towels to girl learners, indigent women and children with disabilities. We cannot allow girl children from indigent households to continue to miss more than 40 days of learning in each academic year because of lack of access to sanitary towels.
We are also working with the Department of Health and other partners in the private sector in increasing access to assistive devices. These devices are essential for independent living and participation in social and economic activities by people with disabilities.
On the second outcome, which is inclusive economic growth, we are focusing on the economic empowerment for women and people with disabilities.
Chairperson, I recently visited Voorspoed Mine in Kroonstad, Free State. This mine, owned by De Beers, is headed by a young black woman, Mpumi Zikalala, who is a general manager and it employs about 370 people. This mine has achieved 2% employment equity target for people with disabilities and 35% for women in various positions including technical posts involved in the extraction of diamond. My view is that if a mine in rural Free State can achieve such progress by recruiting and training local matriculants, all other sectors of our economy can achieve the targets we have set on gender and disability representation.
We have made progress as a country on the representation of women in the legislative and executive arms of government. However in many other sectors, women remain severely underrepresented. As I reported to the National Assembly, women constitute less than 10% of CEOs and chairpersons of boards of companies listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). They only hold less than 16% of directorship and 21% of executive management positions.
We are consulting on the Gender Equality Bill which will provide us with legislative authority to hasten the empowerment of women and the attainment of the 50/50 gender parity. The final Draft Bill will be submitted to Cabinet for approval by March 2012. The enactment of the Gender Equality Bill will lead to systemic improvements for women and facilitate the attainment of gender equality.
Chairperson, last month we convened a national Rural Women’s Summit in Limpopo. Representatives of women from all provinces outlined the challenges facing them as lack of access to land and water. Those who have secured land want developmental finance and access to market for their produce. They also want skills development programmes that will enable them to achieve sustainable livelihood where they live. We will be working with Departments of Rural Development and Land Affairs as well as Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to ensure that these aspirations of women are integrated into the rural development strategy for the country.
Development of rural women will be a key focus of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) next year and as a country we have to present a coherent strategy through which we are addressing the challenges facing women in the rural areas. We have finalized the report on this year’s UNCSW which focused primarily on access to education and training; science and technology and decent work for women. The report summarizes the engagements we had at this meeting and the implications for South Africa.
Chairperson, we are very concerned with the continued failure to advance towards the target of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities. The report of the Employment Equity Commission for the year 2010 indicates our country only had 0.9% of employees being people with disabilities. They constituted 0.6% in the public sector while the private sector had 1%.
We have to encourage the private sector to continue to increase the number of employees with disabilities. Within government, we will monitor the progress of each department towards the attainment of 2% employment equity for people with disabilities. Each department or sphere of government is going to be held accountable for this target.
To respond to other developmental challenges facing people with disabilities, the Department will focus on improving access to education through the promotion of the implementation of the inclusive education policy. We will also be conducting an audit of all special schools in the country. This audit will inform appropriate interventions that have to be made to enhance the learning environment for children using these facilities.
The Department will also implement the National Accessibility Campaign which focuses on reasonable accommodation at the work place, public transport and access to information and assistive devices.
We will also convene a National Summit on Disability during this financial year to agree on the implementation plan for the domestication of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and finalize the draft National Disability Policy that will strengthen our collaborative efforts to address the challenges facing people with disabilities.
Chairperson, the third outcome area is development of an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship. This is an area where we need massive mobilisation of all sectors of our society and an outreach to all the nine provinces of our country.
Our country faces a serious crisis of violence against women and children. We have children being dumped in dustbins while women, young and old, are falling victims of rape and murder. The right to sexual orientation as stipulated in our Constitution is also being violated through the so-called corrective rape of lesbian women.
The challenge of violence against women and children was further highlighted when we presented the report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women in Geneva earlier this year. While our country was commended for progress in the representation of women in political decision making positions, access to education for girls and our response to HIV and AIDS, gender based violence and child abuse were identified as the main area of concern.
Acknowledging the magnitude and complexity of the factors driving this scourge of violence, we will be establishing an advisory council comprising of key government departments, civil society organizations and other relevant partners. This Advisory Council is going to coordinate the implementation of the 365 Days National Plan of Action to end violence against women and children.
Our country has a strong legislative framework protecting the rights of children and as the Department, we are going to monitor the implementation of all these laws including the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act.
We also recently concluded yet another successful Child Protection Week in partnership with the Department of Social Development. In this week we mobilized communities to work with government in curbing the abuse of children. Some key activities for this week included the national launch of the Early Childhood Development programme which took place in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga and the launch of the Strategy on Children Living in the Street in Bloemfontein, Free State.
For us to carry out all of these tasks, we have to strengthen our internal capacity and build strong relations with all spheres of government and partners from various sectors. We have over the past seven months made much progress on building the capacity of this Department.
We appointed a Director General and Deputy Director General responsible for disability and children’s rights and Deputy Director General: Corporate Affairs. We are recruiting the Deputy Director General responsible for women empowerment and gender equality. Other key appointments already made include the Chief Financial Officer, heads of research, legal services, international relations and other key Chief Director positions relating to advocacy and mainstreaming as well as capacity building for all the three sectors.
Chairperson, in our liaison with provinces, we are calling upon all Premiers to retain in their offices the special programmes responsible for the Status of Women and the Rights of Children and People with Disabilities. We have started with consultations and we will be going to each province within the next few months to discuss the structural arrangements and other key issues relevant to the three sectors. We are also calling on Mayors in all municipalities to establish special programmes responsible for the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.
In conclusion Chairperson; I would like to thank my colleagues in Cabinet, the chairperson and members of the Select Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities for their untiring support and cooperation.
I also thank all the provinces that work with us in various activities including the hosting of commemorative days relating to women, children and people with disabilities. We will be counting on your support once again as we prepare for the Mandela Month in July which we will dedicate to children and the disability sector. I also hope we will work together to effectively use the Women’s Month in August to highlight the various issues affecting women of our country.
My appreciation goes to the many women’s organizations, children’s rights groups and organisations representing persons with disabilities who have engaged with us in building an entity that can respond to the expectations of our sectors.
We also appreciate the support and enthusiasm of the UN agencies in supporting the programmes of the Department.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Director General and the staff of the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities for the dedication in the work of the Department and the implementation of our strategic plan as approved by Parliament.
Working together, we can build a fully inclusive society free of unfair discrimination, inequality and abuse.