SA calls for advanced women participation

South Africa celebrated this year's International Women's Day with calls for African leaders to advance women's participation in politics and empowering them economically.

To commemorate the day, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government, the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities (DWCPD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted an event to assess the achievements of women on the continent and facilitate inter-generational discussions and mentorship amongst women with a view to inspire future women leaders.

Speaking at the event, DIRCO Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said there was a need to eliminate the existing discrimination practises against women.

She said there should be greater efforts to remove barriers that hinder women's full participation in the economy.

"Economic emancipation of women cannot remain a song it has to become a reality. I would be happier if those people who are going to be ministers in future can ensure that we have more women in international relations in our continent," said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Also speaking at the event was Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, who said educating young girls should be a priority.

"We must encourage young girls to prioritise education in order to pull themselves and their families out of poverty and hopelessness that many have come to accept."

She said the country's plan to commemorate national Women's Day - which is observed on 9 August - are in full swing.

The Premier highlighted that there were plans to open an International Women's Centre that will allow women from all over the world to come and learn about the struggles of the of the South African women.

The United Nations set aside 8 March as a day for countries to honour women for their economic, political and social achievements and to share best practices with regard to overcoming the challenges in achieving women's empowerment and gender equality.

This year's theme was: "Empower Rural Women - End Hunger and Poverty".

According to the UN, rural women, constitute one-fourth of the world's population and continue to face more difficulty than men in accessing public services, social protection, employment and markets, due to cultural norms, security issues and lack of identification documents.

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