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South Africa: Men, Women Must Join Forces Against Patriarchy

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Friday, August 25th, 2017
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South African boy

Deputy President Ramaphosa says South African men and women must work together to help the country realise a non-sexist society, in which all can enjoy equal rights and opportunities.

He said government’s efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society are undermined by the persistence of patriarchal cultures and practices in the country.

He was replying to Parliamentary Questions in Cape Town on Wednesday. The Deputy President said it is essential that South Africa works to eradicate patriarchy in all its forms in the country.

To a significant extend, patriarchy continues to define relations within the home, where women are often confined to play inferior roles such as perform unpaid domestic labour.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said constraints that are imposed on women, limits their opportunities to find work and access a number of opportunities including education.

“The unequal economic relations in the home are extended to the exclusion and segregation of women in the labour market as well. Women in South Africa continue to face challenges in increasing and in key and meaningful senior management positions as well as decision making positions. In many cases, women earn less than men for similar work.”

He quoted the report on status of women, which shows that where women are employed it is often in precarious and insecure positions.

As a result, he said, women are more likely to live below the poverty line than males with rural women being much more vulnerable than their urban counterparts.

Patriarchal relations are also prevalent in institutions like the State, where men tend to dominate despite formal equality that is often a bias against women.

Gender based violence

On the issue of gender based violence, the Deputy President said it was alarming manifestations of patriarchy, that were exacerbated by institutional norms and social conditioning which pressure men to have political/financial/social as dominion over women.

Because the various forms of patriarchy are interrelated, the Deputy President said government has been working with civil society to deal with the challenges in a holistic manner.

“While the family unit is an important starting point, we cannot focus only on the family in attempts to reverse patriarchal attitudes. The democratic government has promulgated a number of legislative instruments and has embarked on a number of programmes to address the structural manifestation of patriarchy.

“Some of the efforts that have been embarked upon include the provision of more affordable responsive finance, ensuring women are the primary beneficiary of government social grants, mobilising women farmers into agricultural coops,” he said.

He said through partnerships with men’s organisations, men are challenging themselves and other men on patriarchal attitudes, and the ability of these interventions to effectively reverse patriarchal relations however depends on the collective commitment of all in society.

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