Happy International Women’s Week!!! Message from the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

As we commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2013, we join the peoples of the world in recognizing the importance of women in society and their contribution to social progress, international peace and security.  It is through our collective efforts in the struggle for the full emancipation of women that we were able to forge international solidarity with the rest of humanity in the fight for human rights, dignity and equality. Though much progress has been made, our society cannot utterly assert itself free from gender-based discrimination and violence, inequality, gender wage discrepancies, inequities in access to land and social services. In the recent past, we have seen, heard and read about shocking acts of gender-based violence such as the rape and mutilation around the globe and in our own country. Two rape cases of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey on a public bus in New Dehli and that of 17-year-old Anene Booysen among others come to mind. Acts of brutal violence against women, rape and murder necessitate that we raise awareness to combat and prevent this scourge in our society. We welcome the newly established Council for Gender-Based Violence and the establishment of the Sexual Offences Courts. These are part of our commitments as a country to deal effectively with gender-based violence. As a Department, our role in the international arena enables us to further take the struggle for women’s empowerment and gender equality. We welcome and encourage the messages of support from the international community, particularly those emanating from the 57th session of UN Commission on the Status of Women whose emphasis is on preventing and ending violence against women and girls. We anticipate that these messages will be fully embraced and translated into plans of action by women, men, young people, civil society, the private sector, labour, religious organisations and governments. I urge you all to spread the spirit of UBUNTU on this day to defend equal rights of men and women, and reaffirm our commitment to the right to human dignity and worth of all human beings.

It is TIME FOR ACTION: “Prevent and end violence against women and girls”.

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