(Debate in parliament: Adjustment Budget for the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities)
The mere existence of a Department for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is indicative of the deep-rooted problems in the South African society. In a society where equal opportunities truly exist for all in the private and public sectors, such a department would have been superfluous.
That is what South Africa should strive for. The reality, however, is that gender violence is rampant, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is useless and persons with disabilities are still being treated like lepers.
And now the Department's budget has been made less while its challenges are getting more and more. Even with the adjusted targets and priorities, the future looks bleak. When the political will is lacking, it is a lost cause.
Gender violence comes up for discussion a lot. Ten months ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa even declared it a national priority. Billions of rand were earmarked and many committees were established, but there is nothing to show for it all.
Much too little is done to draw people with disabilities into our society where they can function as true citizens of South Africa and with a further cutback of R27 million on the Department's budget, matters will only get worse.
Although the Department of Basic Education approved sign language as a first language subject in 2015 and the first Grade 12s matriculated with sign language as one of their subjects in 2018, too little is still done to support the deaf community.
The decision to make textbooks available in braille is indeed positive. And now Parliament must get to work to execute a decision that was made in 2016 already, namely to declare sign language the country's twelfth official language.
There are about 4 million deaf people in South Africa, and it would be an injustice to them if nothing is done about this.
The Minister of Labour wants to use the newly proposed amendments to the employment equity legislation to enforce sector-specific targets, in other words, quotas for women and persons with disabilities. Quotas are nothing but a cosmetic attempt to rectify an injustice; it will not change attitudes.
Deliberate actions are needed to make persons with disabilities feel that they are part of our society. The FF Plus, therefore, wants to see that equality is promoted and not gender or other quotas. At best, quotas are counterproductive.
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