Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services,
Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize
During the Occasion of 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children
Mompati Pre-School, Dieplsoot, Ext 13
01 December 2015
Theme: “GETTING TO ZERO”
Programme Director, allow me to first start by applauding the National Children and Violence Trust (NCVT) for actively playing the advocacy role for those living with HIV and AIDS and continuing to support those living with virus. The HIV/AIDS pandemic should not be a forgotten cause, it is still a very relevant discussion point in this day and age.
The UNAIDS World AIDS Day theme for 2011 to 2015 is: “Getting to Zero”. Let me re-emphasise that although your focus this year is on ZERO DISCRIMINATION, without losing sight of the other ‘zeroes’, Zero new HIV infections; and Zero AIDS related deaths. We ought to ensure that the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS are not violated, and that discrimination on the basis of HIV and AIDS is reduced, and ultimately eliminated.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST VIOLENCE ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN
The 16 Days of Activism Against Violence of Women and Children campaign for this year was kicked off with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2015. The campaign will continue until 10 December 2015, which is an International Human Rights Day.
This year’s campaign happens during the 20th anniversary of the the most progressive road map to gender equality, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In March 1995, world leaders met at the United Nations’ 59th Commission on the Status of Women and in September at the 70th General Assembly to take stock of the progress made and commit to take action to close the gaps that are holding women and girls back. This year a new Sustainable Development agenda, which for the first time includes specific targets and indicators on ending violence against women, also replaced the Millennium Development Goals.
We have been invited by the United Nations Secretary-General to join the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign” and to “Orange the world: End violence against women and girls.”
HIV/AIDS AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Gender Based Violence increases the risk of HIV infection in women as a result of physiological and psychological reasons. Uninfected women are about twice as likely to contract HIV from infected men. Biologically, women are more vulnerable to infection and forced sex further increases the risk of HIV transmission to women especially in adolescent girls. However, even the threat of violence can have serious negative consequences. Women fearing violence are less able to protect themselves from infection: They do not have the power to negotiate for safe sex or to refuse unwanted sex, they do not get tested for HIV, and they fail to seek treatment after infection.
In 2011, the Population Reference Bureau reported that approximately 68 percent of people infected with HIV worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa, where the virus disproportionately affects women. Gender-based violence has been identified as a significant driver of HIV/AIDS infections in women in the region, and international organizations are increasingly focusing on the elimination of violence against women as key in the battle against the spread of the epidemic. Prevention strategies need to address the unequal power between men and women, and norms and practices that put women at a higher risk of exposure to HIV.
MAKING USE OF ICTs TO COMBAT GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Initiatives have long been available in the ICT sector to bring to an end women and child abuse. Over the years, Telkom has sponsored the Childline Initiative which involved troubled children calling in and getting councelling over the phone. With the changing ICT landscape we now have initiates whereby children and women can log-in on a website chat to other people from various parts of the world and get assistance. During the previous year’s “16 Days of Activism Campaign” we have successfully launched a web-based solution, a website called www.ulwazi.ict.co.za for abused women in the North West Province.
WOMEN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Some of the highlights of President Jacob Zuma’s speech during the launch 16 days of no violence against women and children at Mahikeng, North West were:
“Beyond the laws, we also need to look at socio-economic conditions which make women vulnerable. Unemployment forces some women to remain in relationships that are not conducive to their health and wellbeing.
If a woman depends on the abuser for housing and general living expenses, they are unlikely to act and report a violent partner to the police or to walk out on them to protect their lives and that of the children.
Women are also marginalised in terms of access to land, credit and finance, which makes them prone to violence and abuse.
The advancement of the economic empowerment of women is thus critical for us to fight the scourge of abuse and violence.”
Also during his launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children, President Jacob Zuma said:
“To promote a justice system that is user friendly to victims, government through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has deployed one hundred and sixty one (161) intermediaries spread over all Dedicated Sexual Offences Courts.
It has also installed three hundred and twenty four (324) Closed Circuit TV Systems, forty nine One-Way Mirrors and established two hundred and twenty two (222) Child Testifying Rooms.
It is our wish to see all criminal courts equipped with these gadgets. The re-establishment of the Sexual Offences Courts also is one of the measures to increase conviction of perpetrators.”
As government, women structures and NGOs must always lobby for harsher sentences for perpetrators so that we do not have serial offendors roaming our streets instilling terror in our women and children.
Since the dawn of our democracy government has been coming up with deliberate programmes to ensure the inclusion of women. Some of these programmes includes the following:
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment – to ensure that women are out of poverty and inequality government introduced the Broad Economic Empowerment legislation. The BEE legislation has since been amended to be Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment in order for it to cater for the broader society. The legislation gives preference to women in business to ensure their inclusion in the mainstream economy and full participation thereof.
Support for Small Businesses – Government has made a deliberate move to support small businesses and cooperatives which is more reason why women should be encouraged to participate in these business ventures. It is important for women and the youth to work together as a unit, forming coorperatives through which they will be able to give each other moral support. A new ministry which focuses solely on the needs for small businesses has also been created. This new Ministry is aimed at fostering development of small businesses.
Access to Finance – We acknowledge that the main issue hindering women participation in the economy has always been access, access to financing and access to the markets. Government has introduced Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) for women to be able to get assistance in terms of getting professional business plans. This will also enable women to get gain access to the financing of their businesses through Small Enterprise Finacing Agency (Sefa).
Continued Education for Women – As part of preventing the vulnerability of women government has removed all the barriers hampering our people to have access to quality education. For those who were not able to finish the high school education there are TVET Colleges which assists in augmenting those lessons that were not acquired from high school and can act as a stepping stone towards Universities of technology.
Industrialisation – There are things that we take for granted, in some countries women enter the economic value chain through craft work. Through their bead work, sculptures, preparation of indigenous foods, etc. women are able to create their own industrial hubs either at the own homes or market places frequented by many people.
Preferential Procurement – Other measures include reforms to the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), customising incentive schemes offered by government and its agencies, launching a new financial support scheme suitable for black industrialists and the establishment of an advisory panel on black industrialists.
Local Production and Procurement – Local procurement and increased domestic production will be at the centre of efforts to transform our economy and will be buoyed by a government undertaking to buy 75% of goods and services from South African producers.
Community ICT Hubs – ICT Hubs at a community level can assist in e-skills, e-enterprise, partnership with higher education, partnership with SOEs, partnership with university of technology, enterprise development, and internships.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
We are grateful of the initiatives that are currently available in the ICT sector to empower the youth. Just yesterday we were with the community of Mamelodi whereby Telkom has gather about 3000 youth. These young people were assisted in terms of creating their own CVs, creating their online profile for job search, taught how to use the internet to market themselves for better job opportunities and given a sim card which will be loaded with airtime every month for twelve months. It is through such activities that our youth becomes aware and open to endless available opportunities.
In the context of alcohol and drug abuse technology can be used amongst community members to share experiences on the mobile platform. The youth can also create applications which can assist in social coehersion.
Great strides have been made to use e-government to simplify government procedures, improve access to information by citizens, and improve service delivery, as well as strengthening accountability and transparency. Increasing the efficiency and transparency of the public sector through the wide take-up of ICT will change the way the public administration functions thus improving the availability and quality of public services and increasing opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate in decision-making processes.
Gender based expectations as well as increased rates of poverty and persistent forms of discrimination against vulnerable groups are well known economic, social and cultural sources providing fuel for the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Women’s vulnerability to HIV infection is particularly heightened by amongst others their economic dependence on men, lack of access to education, poverty and sexual exploitation.
Government has given ample opportunities for women to improve their lives economically. With the lack of information and knowledge about these programmes, most women still live in poverty, remain exploited and vulnerable to abuse. The responsibility remains we me and you to spread and make the information about these programmes available to women in the most impoverished areas.
Let’s all work together to ensure that we achieve ZERO DISCRIMINATION for all people infected which the HIV virus.
I thank you.