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Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has urged the country not to allow COVID-19 to keep it from reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on gender equality.

Nkoana- Mashabane said COVID-19 has already impacted the lives of women and girls, and exposed the fault lines of inequalities and patriarchy that continue to persist.

“Gender equality remains critical towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We have only nine years to reach this goal.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated these inequalities and negative social norms for women and girls, not least of which is growing poverty and joblessness among women, and the continuing scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF),” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

The Minister made these remarks at the national stakeholder consultation this week ahead of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), which will take place from 15-26 March 2021.

The meeting brought to the fore the voices and experiences of women on the ground to ensure that lived experiences are always at the forefront of gender equality efforts on a global scale.

This year’s theme aligns closely with the outcomes of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-Based Violence, which highlights economic empowerment as a key area of concern that must be addressed.

Lack of women representation

The Minister emphasised the need for 50-50 representation at local government level.

“We want women leaders at this level to make a difference for the ordinary women on the ground through policy and intervention measures. In this way women’s access to basic services, water, electricity, and sanitation can be prioritised.

“We want women leaders to promote women’s employment as well as opportunities to entrepreneurship and access 40% of the procurement spend,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Among the issues raised by participants were the lack of women representation in leadership and decision-making bodies; the lack of young women representation in various labour sectors, and the need for increased funding for programmes that address national concerns like patriarchal attitudes and toxic masculinity.

Participants were also vocal about the need for increased funding to NGOs working to localise the District Development Model and drive change on the ground, through community work and stakeholder participation.

About the Commission on the Status of Women

The CSW is a global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The commission is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This year’s CSW65 will held under the theme,” Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

SAnews.gov.za

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