7 August 2012
Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has challenged South African women to focus on removing the barriers to their economic emancipation.
“I am not talking even about big business, but just small and medium – one of the major problems is access to finance and land, and we must also ensure women have access to other resources like electricity and running water,” Dlamini Zuma said.
Speaking at an event to mark launch of Women’s Month at the University of the Free State on Saturday, Dlamini Zuma said South Africa had made progress in women’s representation in government.
This progress should still continue and grow, she said, but also efforts should now turn to the economy in a systematic and focused manner.
“Education and skills, including in science and technology, is very important for the emancipation of women. Access to finance and land is also critical.
“We must enter the struggle for economic emancipation with the same vigour as we did with struggle for liberation,” Dlamini Zuma said. “We have what it takes … and our continent will be much better and stronger for our courage and determination.”
She urged South African women to embrace the African Union’s Decade of Women, declared African leaders in 2010.
“We should define for ourselves what this decade means, define that we want to do, the role we want to play and achieve during this decade.”
Dlamini Zuma also reminded the country’s women that the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO), which was formed in Tanzania in 1962, commemorates its 50th anniversary this year.
“PAWO has historically played an important role in the mobilisation of women for the struggle and for the liberation of our continent. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, we should perhaps ask ourselves whether it is still able to respond to the dynamic changes within the continent and in the world.
“Is it able to address the present needs of women of political, social and economic emancipation? If the answer is no, we must take the necessary steps to ensure it can respond effectively, even if it means to transform the organisation.”