Minister Mbombo's Address at the Woman's Day Debate
Debate on "Substance abuse and domestic violence: the rights, role and contribution of women in the Western Cape".
The Honourable Premier,
Distinguished guests in the gallery,
South Africa is celebrating 60 years of the Women’s Charter and 20 years of Freedom, and this house is debating an issue that affects all women in the Western Cape, but also nationally, namely substance abuse and violence against women.
There’s no doubt that the country is a better place today than it was before 1994. We have a progressive Constitution and laws that are there to protect women against violence. Let’s embrace those achievements.
Speaker, we all know for a fact that the strength of women today is informed by the struggles of women yesterday.
From those who publically helped liberate us, to those who helped raise us.
We owe the strides we have made, to you.
The progress of South Africa cannot be divorced from the progress of women. We must acknowledge that the struggle for women is far from over.
As we stand in these hallowed halls, there are women who are still piecing together their families after being wrecked by substance abuse, domestic violence and gangsterism; right on our doorstep, on our porches, in our backyards.
Whilst we may argue about which political party has more women than others in Parliament and in government, we cannot forget that a woman is killed by her partner almost every day across the country.
Lest we forget, infants are raped by their uncles and neighbours.
Lest we forget school girls and boys are sexually molested by teachers and family priests.
Lest we forget a 90 year old grandmother is brutally raped by her 25 year old grandson.
Lest we forget that a toddler’s torso was found buried underneath her uncle’s mattress bed.
Lest we forget that someone’s teenage daughter is sniffing tik right now, whilst another might have been raped last night after being unknowingly drugged with the date-rape drug.
How many children have been wounded and killed in street war gang shootings this month?
And probably, in this room, some of us have been victims of domestic violence including sexual assault.
And probably, some of us are like me, don’t feel safe on the street.
Honourable Members, we, the women of South Africa, are scared. We are very scared.
We are afraid for ourselves, for our children, for our mothers, for our grannies, for the helpers that we leave at home.
And so as we gather today, celebrating Women’s Month of 2014, we are not only remembering our sisters and mothers, we are also saying: never, never, never again will we allow the status quo to continue without us doing anything about it.
Our mission is clear: we want to end substance and domestic violence in this province.
Whether you are a Member of Parliament, domestic worker, a nurse, a pastor, a professor or teacher we share the same goal.
Whether you are a member of DA, the ANC, or the EFF, we should have the same vision.
We are advancing women’s agenda and sizakuphelisa nyaa ukungojwa nodlwengulo lwabafazi, siphelise iziyobisi kweli phondo lentshona koloni.
More than 56% of all murders of women are perpetrated by intimate partners, making intimate femicide the leading cause of death for women.
Members of the House, the war against women and children in this country has reached crisis levels. It is not something to play politics with. It is something that requires us to band together to fix.
Just last year, the country and the province was shaken to its core by the brutal rape and murder of a child of the province, Anene Booysen.
At the beginning of this year, we were all horrified by the 27 year-old man who allegedly raped and set a nine-year old girl alight in Delft. This story was heart-wrenching, more so to mothers like myself. What is even more distressing is the fact that this man has not been brought to justice.
Over the years men have been conditioned to equate violence with manhood thus reinforcing aggression and dominance over women.
That is why we battle with gender-based violence across the world, all over South Africa.
South Africa is the only country in Africa where discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation is guarded against by the Constitution.
That is why we should have never witnessed the rape and murder of Eudy Simelane, a former star of SA Banyana Banyana who was training to be the first female referee of the 2010 World Cup.
It is the patriarchal societies we found ourselves in that allow for such atrocities to take place.
Who are these men who tie up a 9 year old, rape, strangle her, burn her and leave her to die?
Unfortunately, these men are not from Mars. They are our brothers, our partners, and they are our sons.
They stay with us and we share a table with them, a bed with them.
It is not about a mini skirt or a see-through gorgette shirt that a woman wears.
Because this would never explain why 1 month old babies and 90 year old grannies become victims of such crimes.
The time has come Honourable Members to use all our opportunities and platforms, to educate young boys and begin to redefine manhood.
Let us use initiation schools, churches, schools, youth camps, NGOs, and encourage parents to play their role.
Leaders, in traditional circles, political platforms, community setups and even behind the pulpit need to preach that the fight against gender based violence is our responsibility- all of us.
Let us continue educating our women about their rights. Let us remind them that they too are human rights which are not only enshrined in our own Constitution but in international treaties alike.
Celebrating Women’s Day and Women’s Month shouldn’t be seen as infantilization of women, and thus requiring a “oh shame, fooitog, arme vroue” response.
Make no mistake, women, by nature, are strong, and only made weak by their external environment and society.
Just like the women of 1946, we don’t intend to form a separate society from men.
We don’t have to bash men to reclaim our own identity and space for recognition.
We fully understand that patriarchy failed men too. Our societal ideology, not only failed the girl child, but the boy child too.
The Western Cape Government’s efforts to curb these social ills are diverse.
We prioritise the empowerment of people so that this commitment is not limited to lip service.
We have begun to change the trajectory of young people and women alike.
Education and skills are crucial to reduce the contributory causes of substance abuse and domestic violence.
In the Western Cape we adopt a whole society approach involving all stakeholders in developing young people with the aim of producing a responsible, skilled and well-resourced adult.
Members of the House, an educated nation is an empowered nation.
Education is the surest way to ensure that we stop the cycle of unemployment, dependency and the plethora of social ills that plague our country.
The United Nations confirms that educating a girl child has massive ripple effects on society as a whole.
When we empower women, specifically, the girl child, we can be sure that family health will improve, women's participation in the labour force and their contributions to household and national income will increase and this will have a positive effect on child nutrition.
Children — especially daughters — of educated mothers are more likely to be enrolled in school and to have higher levels of educational attainment.
That is also why we have taken the empowerment of young people outside the classroom, through Mass Participation Opportunity and Development (MOD) centres which the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports implemented four years ago in partnership with schools and communities.
Soon, as the Premier announced in her State of the Province Address, we will be launching the Gap Year Programme which will be synced to the MOD centre programme.
The Gap Year Programme will recruit top matriculants, university students both in South Africa and abroad to tutor young people in our MOD centres.
This is not only a great opportunity for our young ones at our MOD centres, but it will open doors for the tutors too.
In the Western Cape we extend opportunities to a diverse group of young people.
A child in sport, is a child out of criminal court.
Through sport, we will see to it that every youngster is part of a team, and participates in school sport, at MOD centers after school hours, or in community sport clubs.
The sense of belonging to a group is very crucial to adolescents, and this need has been said to be one of the contributing factors to them joining gangs.
We substitute gang membership with sport or cultural group membership.
No youngster should be left with nothing to do after school hours and weekends.
We have identified potential community role models such as current and retired sport legends that these youngsters can spend time with, not only for coaching but as mentors for them where they often come from broken homes where there is no support system.
The Department of Community Safety has partnered up with FET Colleges like Northlink where they have made bursaries available for young people to apply and study. This is in an effort to help keep young people off the streets and into classrooms grooming their futures.
The department has a programme on “Watching Briefs” ensuring oversight for effective criminal justice system for speedy conviction of crimes.
The Social Development department established Youth Cafés in Mitchell’s Plein, which are to be scaled up in other areas across the province. Young people can access information on job adverts, internet use, career guidance, and be engaged in social activities. These Cafes are addressing youth unemployment by connecting young people to developmental and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism has budgeted over R120 million for the next three years on skills development programmes. This is a great opportunity for the youth to gain experience that will make them employable.
Young people continue to benefit from the Premier’s Advancement of Youth (PAY) project that provides internships for matriculants, with on-the-job training in government departments for a year.
The Western Cape Government alongside the City of Cape Town has piloted the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) project in Khayelitsha in an effort to reduce violent crime and improve social conditions in Cape Town communities.
In a community that has been characterised by violent crime, poverty, unemployment, a harsh natural environment and undignified public space this type of development is used to transform public spaces and turn our communities into vibrant, safe and attractive places to live.
So as we celebrate 20 years of democracy and 60 years of the Women’s Charter let us all commit to making a difference in the lives of other women and our own.
We cannot seek to move the agenda of women forward if we do not make tangible changes for the average woman in South Africa today. And that starts from investing in our young women (and men).
This is my promise to you today: We will work day and night, all year-round, to make sure that the sacrifices of the heroines of this country were not in vain. We will use the mandate that has been given to us by you, the people of this province, to provide the necessary opportunities for your children, to make the streets of your communities safer, to empower our women, boys and girls, to make your province, a better place for all in live. Better, Together.