South Africa’s new Women’s Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, says the plight of rural women is a major concern for her department. Dlamini has welcomed the focus on rural women at this year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The Commission, which wraps up this week in New York, is a key intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women across the globe.

In her first broad-ranging interview since South Africa’s cabinet reshuffle, Dlamini called on Treasury to ensure that gender budgeting takes place within each and every government Department. She said her Ministry would focus on strengthening policy.

 

Dlamini has also voiced support for pupils at no fee paying schools to receive free sanitary towels. Addressing the issue in Parliament, Dlamini says providing sanitary towels for the poor is an initiative she takes seriously.

This view was supported by an Ipsos online poll ahead of International Women’s Day, and in the wake of the #metoo campaign.

Almost 20 000 people in 28 countries were asked to rate their concerns about a number of gender and equality issues in the ‘Perceptions are not reality… and we’re not as close to equality as we think’ study.

As the only African country participating in the study, South Africans said domestic abuse and access to sanitary products were major challenges.

The South African participants said however, that the most important issue facing women and girls in South Africa is sexual violence. When the results of 27 countries are considered, this is actually the second most important issue overall (28%), while sexual harassment tops the international list (32%).

People in all 28 countries overestimated the scale of violence women experience from partners. South African women said that 62 out of every 100 women experience sexual violence from a spouse or partner, while South African men said they perceived the number at 51.  In fact, 13% of South African women experience such abuse.

Speaking to SABC Digital News, Ipsos director Mari Harris says, “We also asked people how many of the top 500 corporations have women as CEOs. Everybody overestimated the number… in fact only 3% of women are in top positions, this means only three out of every 100 is a female, and that is what we mean with, ‘perceptions are not reality…”

For full interview listen below:

 

 

International Women’s Day Global Advisory report. by Okuhle Magcaba