The Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, says the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and UN member states have an obligation to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“The CSW must have tangible, action oriented outcomes, which bring about real change in the lives of women and girls,” Minister Dlamini said at the opening of 62nd Session of the CSW at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The session, which opened on Monday, will run until Friday, 23 March.
The commission, which is attended by representatives of member states, UN entities and NGOs from all regions of the world, is held under the theme ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’.
Minister Dlamini said this year’s theme is a subject that has been neglected for far too long, and that gender equality and the empowerment of women should move beyond political rhetoric.
Despite the harsh realities, the Minister said women and girls in rural areas continue to demonstrate tremendous resilience in the face of multi-dimensional poverty, inequality and the struggle for a better life.
“Despite global efforts, women and girls in rural areas continue to face structural barriers, patriarchy, gender inequality, socio-economic deprivation, violence, and exclusion from leadership and decision-making. They face multiple intersecting forms of discrimination including in relation to inheritance, harmful practices, child marriage and human trafficking,” Minister Dlamini said.
The Minister said South Africa’s Constitution is founded on the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism and non-sexism.
“We remain committed to fast-track the implementation of our obligations to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gender and development protocol, as well as our own National Development Plan 2030,” the Minister said.
She also used the occasion to highlight strides made by South Africa to ensure women’s economic inclusion and expand access to productive resources, including land.
“We are supporting women farmers and cooperatives to broaden women’s access across the agriculture value chain and other economic sectors. This is in line with South Africa’s programme of radical socio-economic transformation, as reaffirmed by our President Cyril Ramaphosa in his recent State of the Nation Address. This includes the expropriation of land without compensation,” she said.