Women, Children & Persons with Disabilities: Minister's Budget Speech


15 Apr 2010



Budget Vote Speech


Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities


Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, MP





16 April 2010



It is a great honour for me to present to this august house, the first budget vote of the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.


As our President indicated when announcing Cabinet in May last year, this Ministry is created to protect the rights and enhance development opportunities for women, children and persons with disabilities. The President further magnified our role at the celebration of the National Women’s Day last year stating that this Ministry “will monitor other government departments to ensure the mainstreaming of gender, children's rights, and disability considerations into all programmes of government and other sectors. This will help government to respond to issues of these targeted groups in an integrated and coherent manner.”


Again in outlining the programme of action of government in the State of the Nation Address this year, the President emphasized the need “to integrate gender equity measures into the government’s programme of action [and] ensure that women, children and persons with disabilities can access developmental opportunities.”


It is important to outline this mandate in order to appropriately locate and respond to the varying expectations with regard to the work of the Ministry which arose in our consultation with parliament and stakeholders in the three sectors; that is Women, Children and Persons with disabilities.


These expectations range from organizations who require resources to create development opportunities for local groups of women to individual persons with disabilities who cannot find employment despite having some work qualifications. They include the need for protection of various rights of children violated in many ways in our society. These expectations have indeed influenced our strategic direction and areas of focus for the Ministry and Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.


To actualize our mandate which originate from the resolution of the Polokwane Conference of the ANC, we have over the past months focused on building systems and processes that will enable this entity to effectively carry out its mandate. The former Offices of the Status of Women, Rights of the Child and Rights of Persons with Disabilities have been incorporated into the new Department.


We are indeed concerned about the unhealthy state of affairs at the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE). We will be engaging with CGE to provide the necessary leadership and find measures to address various challenges facing the organization. We have to ensure that CGE carry out its mandate as an important Chapter 9 institution focused on issues of gender.


We have covered sufficient ground in building this Ministry and the Department over the past 10 months to state with confidence before this house that indeed 2010 will become a year of action for women, children and persons with disabilities.


Part of our ground work has been the mobilization of human and other resources needed for implementation of our programme. We have completed the selection process for the position of the Director General for the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities and are awaiting Cabinet decision on the matter.


The Department is also in the process of advertising most of the post that we are scheduled to be filled in the 2010/11 financial year.  These include among others Deputy Directors General responsible for each of three branches – Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities. This will enable the new Director General to urgently select staff needed to carry out our task. Our organogram with the staff complement of 195 has been approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration.


The amount allocated to the Department and agreed to by Cabinet is limited compared to the magnitude of the task of transforming our society for the benefit of women, children and persons with disabilities. It is however, the policy of our Government to mainstream the programmes throughout government system.


We ask the House to approve the budget cognizant of the intention to discuss how priority programmes can be relocated to the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities. That is the discussion which should occur at a policy level. The period of budget adjustment later this year should provide an opportunity for better resource allocation.


We are not allowing these challenges to limit our ability to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals in our society. We are forging partnerships with various players to make a difference. Today, we will be handing over wheelchairs and assistive devices to learners with disabilities as part of an initiative supported by the Airport Company of South Africa. ACSA has already provided about 400 assistive devices in Free State and during this financial year, the company will provide a further 500 assistive devices during the current financial year.


I would like to thank the representatives of ACSA who are here today and all private sector and civil society partners who are joining hands with the Ministry to make a difference in the lives of marginalized women, vulnerable children and persons with disabilities. Few weeks ago, we passed the 20 000 milestone in the provision of wheelchairs to needy South Africans with disabilities in a partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Northcliff in Johannesburg and Hampshire in United Kingdom.


We are appealing to the private sector in particular to make available 1% of their net profit after tax for projects that support socio-economic development of the vulnerable groups in our society. This contribution should support government social programmes and make a lasting difference in improving the lives of marginalized women, vulnerable children and persons with disabilities.


On the women sector Mr Speaker, we participated in the 15 year global review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action convened by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York last month. We will soon be convening stakeholders in South Africa to discuss the outcomes of this UNCSW and develop a programme that takes us to Beijing plus-20 review.


The UNCSW review indicated a mix of progress and challenges in the global progress towards attainment of gender equality.


Globally, there is much progress on education and political representation with South Africa ranking number three amongst countries with the highest number of women in the legislature. While access to health including reproductive health services has improved, the impact of HIV and AIDS is negatively affecting the health outcomes including maternal deaths and infant mortality.


The Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities therefore fully supports the HIV testing initiative as well as the immunization campaign. We want to ensure that women, children and persons with disabilities participate in their numbers to protect their health.


We will utilize the opportunity of the review of the Millennium Development Goals in July this year to ensure that there is stronger focus in reducing poverty and improving the health of women, children and persons with disabilities.


Economic empowerment of women is the area of greatest concern where less progress has been made globally and in South Africa. It is disappointing to note from the recent Census done by Business Women Association that by September 2009 there were still 73 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that do not have even a single woman in their boards of directors. At least 26 of these companies do not have even a single woman at an executive management level as well.


These are disturbing statistics we have to deal with more than 16 years into our democracy. Prediction from the Census is that if we continue at the current rate, we will only achieve 50/50 gender parity at board level in 20 years. For the executive management level, it will take us another 40 years. Irrespective of our political background, I am sure we will all agree that this situation is unacceptable.


Our main focus this year will be on the development of the Gender Equality Bill which should hasten the pace towards gender equality in all sectors of our society. We will also be working within the existing frameworks such as Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and Employment Equity Act to ensure that current equity targets for women and persons with disabilities are met.


We will hold consultations with the organized labour, private sector organisations and other stakeholders as part of our campaign to advocate for the 50/50 gender parity principle in positions of management and leadership.


The Beijing +15 review has also highlighted that violence against women and girls remains a major challenge both globally and in SA. In line with the UN Secretary-Generals’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign and the establishment of a global database on violence against women, we intend to intensify our initiative of a dedicated, comprehensive and integrated programme on the 365 Days National Action Plan. This would include the 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence against Women and Children. We are focusing on the challenges such as rape, murder, human trafficking and forced prostitution affecting women and children.


Two weeks ago we joined the government of Free State, the Women’s League of the African National Congress, Progressive Women’s Movement of SA and other partners in responding to the challenge of illegal brothels in Bloemfontein after a brutal murder of a girl who was thrown down 7 floors of a flat run by an alleged druglord.  Tomorrow, we will be in Beaufort West again dealing with the interlinkages of drugs, human trafficking, prostitution and abuse of women and children. We have to work together as various sectors to reduce the vulnerability of women and children that may be linked to the hosting of the Soccer World Cup.


We will be engaging with SAPS on the desegregation of data relating to crimes affecting women and children. Our consultation particularly on the issue of ritual killing indicates that more effort is needed to better understand the motives behind some of the murders and respond to them accordingly.


We need to advocate that a person who has killed and extracted body parts for muti purposes should be sentenced firstly for murder and secondly for additional violations that have been committed. Our law should punish all those involved in this criminal value chain – from those who kill and extract body parts, those who circulate them up to those who buy and use concoctions derived from human tissues.


We cannot allow anymore women and children to loose their lives through these barbaric incidents. The right to life is the most basic right we should afford to every child and woman.


As we have done with the forced marriage of children to older men under the pretext of a traditional practice called ukuthwala, we will respond to any traditional practice that is harmful to the rights and interests of women and children. All social practices have to be within the limits of our Constitution and the rule of law.


Section 28 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution encapsulates the aspirations of child protection and development. We will be working towards the realization of this provision of our Constitution by focusing not only on service provision, but also on mainstreaming of children’s rights issues in governance processes and monitoring of delivery on the Constitutional, Continental and International obligations on children’s rights.  


We will finalize the review of the Children’s Rights Charter and incorporate the emerging challenges facing children. One of these problems is easy access to pornographic material for children and use of children as subject of pornographic material. We have to ensure that children are protected from these harmful publications and they are not sexually exploited. In this regard, we have to commend Multichoice for acceding to public outcry not to have a pornographic channel on Dstv.


We will also focus on the plight of children living in the street with the aim of coordinating and consolidating existing efforts to re-integrate these children into family or move them to secure environments. This will be done in conjuction with Government entities and other partners involved in this area.


On disability, we will be focusing on the domestification of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Amongst other things, the Convention states parties to the Convention must take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public. It states that this shall be applicable to buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities.


While this is applicable to every building, the issue of access to facilities has arisen sharply with regard to the access to Soccer World Cup for persons with disabilities. We are engaging with the Local Organizing Committee and SA Disability Alliance with regard to transportation and improve space available for persons with disabilities. It is very disturbing that some of the newly built or reconstructed stadiums have failed to make adequate disability provisions in their plans. We have to urgently find a solution that will ensure that people with disabilities equally celebrate this historic event.


We will also focus on ensuring that government comply with its target of 2% employment equity for persons with disability and urge other sector to also follow suit. The disability sector has also raised strongly the issue of education and skills development which is important in increasing the opportunity of people with disabilities to engage in economic activities. 


We will also be working with the Department of Health and other role players to work towards universal access to assistive devices that are essential for independent living and participation in social and economic activities.


All the three branches of the Department responsible for each of the sectors will put in place monitoring and evaluation systems with measurable indicators that are responsive to gender, children’s rights and persons with disabilities. This will ensure our oversight function leads to integration of sector specific equity measures in government programmes.


These branches will also seek to mainstreams norms and standards relating to their sector throughout all spheres of government.  Each of the branches must apply specialized technical capabilities appropriate to their sectors. This includes competencies to address sector specific dynamics and peculiarities that have a potential to hamper delivery for these three targeted sectors  


We will also be revising policy frameworks relevant to each sector including:

-          The National Policy Framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality

-          Draft National Policy for the Advancement of Children's Rights

-          National Plan of Action for Children

-          And National Policy on Disability


This revision is necessary to align policy framework with the changes in institutional arrangements and coordination mechanisms.


We will work towards the ratification of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and ensure the domestication of this Protocol into the revised policy. We will also be developing a programme of action for the domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Our Department collaborates with a number of international and continental bodies and instruments that the country is signatory to. In this regard, we are required to report periodically on the progress made at national level on the implementation of these instruments.


We are going to ensure that all reports to these international and regional bodies are consulted on and finalised in time for submission. Furthermore we are undertaking to address the backlog in reporting and will ensure that all outstanding reports will be submitted during this financial year.


I am proud to add that South Africa has been able to address its ten-year backlog regarding progress made in implementing CEDAW with the submission of the report last year. I am led to believe that we may be requested to present to the CEDAW Committee early next year. We will be consulting widely in preparation for this process.


The implementation of the Child Justice Act with effect from this month is one of the major steps that our country has taken in complying with the UN Convention on the Right of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. We will certainly be noting this progress in the reports to these bodies.


We will also be facilitating the observation of the commemorative days relating to our sectors which amongst others include:

  • National Women’s Day
  • National Children’s Day and the Day of the African Child
  • International Day for Persons with Disabilities
  • As well as the 16 and the 365 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children.


Honourable Speaker, in line with the mandate outlined by our President, the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities will be focusing on three main areas and these are:

-          Oversight role

-          Mainstreaming of gender, children’s rights and disability consideration

-          And empowerment of women, children and persons with disabilities


I would like to thank all those who have supported me in this challenging task of setting up this Ministry and Department over the past 10 months. The Presidency has played a central role in assisting this Ministry, providing administrative and other forms of support to ensure that we establish this institution. The Presidency went beyond the call of duty and we very much appreciate its support. 


I would also like to thank my colleagues in Cabinet, the chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities.


My appreciation also goes to the ANC Women’s League, the Progressive Women’s Movement of SA and many other women’s organizations, children’s rights groups and organizations representing persons with disabilities who have engaged with us to ensure that we create an entity that can respond to the expectations of our sectors. Many of the representatives of these organizations are with us here today and I very much appreciate your presence here and support.


I also appreciate the support and enthusiasm with which the UN agencies have responded to the establishment of this Ministry. These agencies have a critical role in supporting the mandate of the Ministry.


I would also like to thank the staff in our Department and Ministry who have ensured that set up this institution to protect the rights and enhance development opportunities for women, children and persons with disabilities.


To my family present here today, thank you for your love, understanding and support.


Together, let us make 2010 a year of action for women, children and persons disabilities.


Thank you



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