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New Minister of Women demonstrated just how little women’s rights mean in South Africa (Debate in Parliament on International Women’s Day with the theme: “A year of decisive action to advance women’s rights in South Africa, Africa and the World”)

Women's rights in South Africa are no more than empty rhetoric without action. The appointment of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the new Minister responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities serves as proof.

As Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), she plunged millions of South Africans into poverty with her draconian Covid-19 regulations.

It is shocking to hear the ANC government enthuse about being a successful advocate for women given the myriad of social problems and challenges affecting women.

The United Nations (UN) instituted International Women's Day in 1975 to annually honour and celebrate women's achievements, while endeavouring to empower them.

This year's theme is: "A year of decisive action to advance women’s rights in South Africa, Africa and the World"

That is exactly where the ANC government falls short. There is no sign of "decisive action" on its part.

Charity begins at home and one would be justified in asking what "decisive action" the South African government has taken to advance women's rights.

The National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide was published on 11 March 2020. And that is where it stayed: only hollow words.

Femicide and violence against women keep climbing at an alarming pace each quarter, but no action is taken.

The economic empowerment of women is relevant as well. South Africa's shrinking economy, a cost-of-living crisis due to poor service delivery, load shedding, fraud and corruption, high fuel and food prices, unemployment and utter despair dash any hopes of empowerment.

The country's expanded unemployment rate currently stands at 42,6%, the highest in the world. The world's average is a mere 6,1%.

Even the war-torn Somalia's unemployment rate is nearly half of South Africa's. It is a damning charge against our government.

Women earn, on average, between 25% to 35% less than their male counterparts for the same work. After all these years of lip service about women's rights, it is clear that nothing has been done.

If the ANC really is serious about empowering women, it will prove it by immediately getting rid of the new Minister, Dlamini-Zuma. Her draconian Covid-19 regulations spared no-one – no man, woman or child.

On International Women's Day, the FF Plus will honour every woman who, despite the challenges she faces, still strives to make the world a better place for all.

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