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SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY AT - PDF

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					SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY AT THE DEPARTMENT OF MINERALS AND ENERGY – SECTORAL MARCH AT THE UNION BUILDING’S GARDEN ON 25 AUGUST 2006. Programme Director Deputy President, Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Comrade Mtetwa Chairperson of the Select Committee of the National Council of Provinces, Comrade Ntwanambi Esteemed Guests Director General Ladies and Gentlemen Kindly allow me to express my sincere appreciation to you, individually and collectively, for participating in what we regard as a momentous occasion for our department. Our recently departed and revered mother, Ma Ellen Khuzwayo in her book, Call me a Woman, points a finger at Ma Charlotte Maxeke, the first National President of the National Council of Women as one of her sources of inspiration. It will suffice for me to echo Ma Maxeke’s Presidential Address on 8 December 1938 at the NCW, to indicate her qualities of leadership and wisdom. She said, “If you can rise, bring someone with you. Do away with that fearful animal of jealousy - kill that spirit.” Those words of wisdom that were delivered in 1938 are still very much relevant to us all today. In our march towards the total emancipation of women, we need to close ranks as women and support each other. According to Ma Ellen Khuzwayo, the motto of the National Council of Women was, “Do unto others as they would do unto you.” We need to adopt the same motto in our struggle against the triple oppression of sex, class and race confronting women. Programme Director, I am sure that you will agree with me that the timing of our march and gathering here today could not have been better arranged. Our march this year together with our sectoral partners has, befittingly, taken place in the Month of Women. Coincidentally, we are gathered here in the year of the 50th anniversary of the historic march on the Union Building by 20 000 women in 1956. The gallant class of women of 1956, under the leadership

of Comrades Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie Williams-de Bruyn made huge sacrifices as they took to the streets and organized others against the racist and restrictive laws imposed upon black women. It is my singular honour to address this gathering of DME and its stakeholders in the mining and energy sectors. Our current generation of women have inherited a rich legacy of struggle for freedom in general and women empowerment in particular. History has entrusted us with the responsibility of taking the baton of struggle from the veterans of our struggle to advance the interests of women to greater heights. The mining and energy sectors are not exempt as terrains of struggle, for us as womenfolk to take our struggle for women empowerment forward. The indomitable resilience of the 1956 women marchers has been well recorded. Their heroic march is indelibly inscribed in our hearts as a giant step in registering gender equality. There is no better way to pay tribute to the class of 1956 other than to raise the flag of gender parity and women empowerment in all spheres of our lives. The mining and energy sectors can not afford to remain as the preserve of male domination and no-go-areas for women empowerment. Our beloved country is the envy of the world as a shining example of the peaceful transition to a democratic dispensation thanks to a large measure to the full participation of all our people in the struggle for freedom. Women played no second fiddle to anyone during the dark days of apartheid. Much as our country has registered much progress since the advent of our democracy, much needs to be done to reinforce our democracy and bolster our freedom. It would suffice to echo and take to heart President Mbeki’s address during the 2006 Woman’s Day Celebrations that, “Together as a nation, we must uphold the perspective that none of us is free unless the women are free – from poverty and loss of human dignity , and free from fear and violence.” Our department as a vital arm of government has, as one of its key strategic objectives, to redress the past imbalances in order to achieve equity throughout the value chain in the minerals and energy sector. The department can not succeed on its own. The role and collaboration of its partners in this regard can not be over-emphasised. The leadership provided by government in fostering women empowerment is instructive as it provides a healthy environment conducive to the promotion of gender equality.
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The seriousness of government and the leadership of President Mbeki, in particular, about empowering women, is clearly evident when we look at the statistics of women in government. 30% of all our parliamentarians are women, which places South Africa at number 8 in the world in terms of gender equality in Government. 43% of ministerial positions are held by women. 12 of our 30 cabinet ministers are women, 10 of 21 deputy ministers are women and 4 out of 9 premiers are women. South Africa is one of only three African countries to have a woman presiding officer in parliament or a house of parliament. At provincial level and local level, we are talking about a third or more women in all those structures. In the diplomatic corps as well, there are many women who are heading missions. In the G8 countries, 4 out of the 8 ambassadors are women. On that score, we have every reason to celebrate that the epic women’s march of 1956 and struggles waged by women were not in vain. However, women's gains have not translated into the business arena. When it comes to the chief executives in large corporations in South Africa, you can count the women on the fingers of one hand. There are few female members on boards [of directors] in the private sector who hardly compare well to the number of women who are on the boards of parastatals. While women have taken up key leadership positions in the cabinet and elsewhere, women in general, still hold marginal positions in our society. Education and training, leading to technical and managerial skills, provides the first pillar of opportunities to change the status quo. The second pillar relates to on job exposure. The third pillar relates to continuous self-assessment against the challenges ahead. The fourth pillar relates to mentoring - it is important that we identify mentors and establish mentorship programmes. The fifth pillar relates to supporting network structures that work towards empowering women. The final pillar relates to developing good role models who can provide the much-needed impetus to encourage students and graduates to acquire priority skills in line with the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA).

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The architecture of the mining industry is characterised by patriarchy. This has been a defining feature of the industry for many decades which must change The launch of the South African Women in Mining Association in 1999 attests to the efforts of the department in affirming women in the mining sector. SAWIMA has grown over years and I am proud to say that despite teething problems, its direction and goals are on track. On the energy side, the department launched the Women in Oil and Energy of South Africa (WOESA). I can say without fear or favour that our oil sector was the first one to develop a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Charter, premised on voluntarism, with an intention to pilot substantial participation of black people within the oil sector. This was done, when at the time, doing BEE deals was not fashionable. For us, it was about sustainable development and meaningful participation by previously disadvantaged individuals. This was an initiative aimed at empowering women in the oil and energy sector. Through this intervention, we managed to unearth women who owned retail stations. The Women in Nuclear of South Africa (WINSA) was also launched to encourage women to participate meaningfully in the nuclear sector. Our main challenge remains the improvement of the quality of life for the masses of our people. As people who give birth to life, nurse and nurture growth and development, we must remain true to the 1956 women marchers by taking the baton of struggle from them and forge ahead inspired by their vision, leadership and courage. I thank you.

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