Women continue to bear the brunt of coronavirus effects: Mlambo-Ngcuka

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Former United Nations Executive Director of Women Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says during the coronavirus pandemic, women have continued to suffer due to underlying societal issues.

Mlambo-Ngcuka was delivering the annual Archbishop Thabo Makgoba lecture virtually under the theme: The role of value-based leadership on local economic development.

Mlambo-Ngcuka says there is no gender-neutral pandemic and that COVID-19 was not an exception.

“Women do not suffer because of the disease itself, they suffer because of the underlying issues in society that discriminate against them. They suffer because of the way the disease is managed which tends to carry on the discriminatory practices that women suffer and we have seen that also in COVID across the world.”

She says educating women remains a key challenge across the world.

“In some countries, it is still easy to take young girls out of schools or to stop a girl from proceeding with her education. Young girls are forced to marry, just because they are a girl they suffer this challenge of forced early marriage. Young girls experience gender-based violence including female genital mutilation and of course many of the girls experience non-consensual sex.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka has urged women to take up space in their respective industries.

“We are in an age where women must not ask to participate, demand to participate but must simply take their space because we are at a critical time and the slow mechanisms that tend to derail women have become just unbearable to many of us. Patriarchy does not celebrate women who write, who are outstanding speakers, patriarchy does not celebrate women who are role models. So, women have got to own the space whenever they have the possibility to do that.”

The annual Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Lecture: