More must be done to empower women, says Mbeki

South Africa needs to strengthen interventions on women’s empowerment, according to President Thabo Mbeki.

Giving the keynote address at the opening of the Women’s Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, the president said that, especially in Africa, women have inadequate access to the resources they need to become economically productive and independent.

“Yet, as we know, women are very industrious and dynamic in the face of serious odds,” he said. “We see this in instances where women defy serious challenges, even in difficult circumstances, such as in the informal economy, working as hawkers, in part-time jobs, in agriculture and in domestic service, determined to provide for their families.”

He said that both in rural and urban areas, women have increasingly become the backbone of the family unit as well as the community.

“Clearly, because poverty among these women threatens to negate whatever advance we, as South Africans, have made since the onset of democracy in 1994, we need to strengthen our interventions on women’s empowerment,” he said.

He told the Women’s Parliament members that South Africa and Africa are faced with enormous challenges of poverty and underdevelopment, born of centuries of colonialism and imperialism, “as well as mistakes we ourselves have made during the years of our independence”.

The president said: “A stark example of the latter is that as we grappled with the development challenges in the post-colonial years, most of us thought, wrongly, that the African man, the liberator, will on his own, on his terms and at his own pace, without the involvement of women, also liberate the rest of society from hunger and underdevelopment.

“Accordingly, for many years, the critical matter of gender equality remained on the sidelines. Clearly, together with neo-colonialism, Cold War rivalries, civil wars and mismanagement of economies, the marginalisation of women contributed to the further underdevelopment of Africa.” — I-Net Bridge

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Egypt, Seychelles get first jabs

The two countries have rolled out China’s Sinopharm vaccine, but data issues are likely to keep some countries from doing the same

Fashion’s future is bricks and clicks

Lockdown forced reluctant South African clothing retail stores online: although foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores remains important in a mall culture like ours, the secret to success is innovation

What the Biden presidency may mean for Africa

The new US administration has an interest and much expertise in Africa. But given the scale of the priorities the administration faces, Africa must not expect to feature too prominently

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…