The Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities presented her budget vote speech to Parliament on 11 May 2012. The Minister commenced with a reiteration of the department’s mandate, which is “to ensure the mainstreaming of gender, children’s rights and disability considerations into all programmes of government and other sectors”.
Highlights in the previous year and priorities for the coming year include:
WOMEN AND VIOLENCE
Numerous consultations with different groups of women, including rural women, young women, women with disabilities and others were hosted in the form of conferences and summits in 2011 around issues of poverty, food security, economic opportunities, rural development, climate change, health and violence.
Consultations are under way for the finalisation of the women empowerment and gender equality policy towards the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The objective is to table the Policy and Draft Bill before Cabinet in 2012.
During 2012 the department will finalise engendering the New Growth Path Framework and the Green Fund to make them gender and disability responsive.
In partnership with a host of partners the department will facilitate opportunities for women in rural, peri-urban and informal settlements to participate in green economy projects such as solar energy, water purification, agriculture, construction and others; financial support and training for women farmers; empowering women in construction.
A baseline study will be conducted ahead of initiatives to mainstream gender into departmental strategic plans and budgets.
Consultations are being arranged on the proposed Traditional Courts bill with the objective of ensuring that it does not reverse the gains made by women in the past twenty years.
Amendments to the Commission on Gender Equality Act are being finalised to align it with the Constitution.
The Techno-Girl Programme has seen 4 184 girls being encouraged to pursue studies in Science, Maths, engineering and Technology fields through job shadowing and career guidance.
The department noted the strengthening, resourcing and reestablishment of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units at police stations and an increase in the number of Thuthuzela Centres to more than 40 across the countries to provide an integrated response, care and support to the victims of violent sexual crimes.
The department is engaging in advocacy to see the imposition of heavy sentences and no bail in the case of perpetrators of violent crimes against women, children and people with disabilities.
The Minister highlighted the National Council Against Gender-based Violence to be led by the Deputy President. The first function of the Council will be to review, facilitate and monitor the implementation of the 365 Days National Action Plan on No Violence against Women and Children.
The 1997 National Plan of Action for Children is currently under review with a view to developing an undated NPA.
The first 1000 days of a child’s life – from conception until the age of two – will be supported by the department with a focus on nutritional support and ARV interventions to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.
Institutional support for Early Childhood Development will be continued to be provided to the Department of Social Development as will support for inclusive education.
The Sanitary Dignity Campaign will be continued.
A review of violence against children will be released in August 2012.
Agreements with various local governments are in development to pilot Child Friendly cities/communities to create safe spaces for children.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES:
A focus in 2012 will be ensuring that government meets the 2% target for the employment of people with disabilities by 31 March 2013.
The department will be finalising a review of the National Disability Policy.
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