Even though gender-based violence and femicide keep intensifying, government's solution to the problem remains the same year in and year out: more hollow proposals, plans and programmes that deliver no results.
No plan to empower women will truly be successful without a holistic approach aimed at uplifting and empowering the entire community.
It should include a properly functioning educational system, healthcare system and police force, proper service delivery, and a growing and prosperous economy.
According to the official numbers, more than 13 000 women were assaulted in the quarter from July to September this year. A total of 989 were killed and 10 000 cases of rape were reported to the police.
It is a well-known fact that the number of reported cases is just the tip of the iceberg seeing as many women are afraid of further victimisation. There is also a serious shortage of police manpower and equipment used in rape cases. In addition, hospitals are becoming increasingly dysfunctional and are overcrowded.
Courts for sexual offences are still no more than an empty promise made by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019. To make matters worse, there is an enormous backlog in DNA testing at the police's forensic laboratories, which undermines the chances of successful prosecution.
In the period from March 2021 to April this year, 90 037 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 fell pregnant. More than 10 000 babies are abandoned every year. Most do not survive.
Teenage pregnancy statistics correlate directly with the drop-out rate from schools.
According to a report by Amnesty International, South Africa's educational system is failing its youth. It is characterised by dilapidated infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and poor teaching outcomes.
Empowerment starts in the classroom where children must be equipped with the tools they need to build an economically sustainable future for themselves. That is the best form of empowerment.
The unemployment rate is equally dismal. The latest figures show that 3,5 million out of 10,2 million young people between the ages of 15 to 24 are unemployed and completely untrained.
The expanded unemployment rate currently stands at 43,1% – nearly half of the economically active population. As levels of unemployment and gender-based violence rise, so do despair, depression, drug abuse, crime and other social ills.
All these issues need to be remedied. Yet another plan or programme will mean nothing as long as the ANC remains in power.
The true upliftment and empowerment of women will form part of the total upliftment of South Africa, which can only happen once the ANC has been ousted from power.