women's rights

women's rights

  • African Youth Day Conference 2011

    Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth)

    The Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth) is the youth platform for information exchange, forum for debate on African issues and a network of future political, corporate, academic, literary, religious and traditional leaders in all African contexts.

    The African Youth Day was declared and adopted by the African Union (AU) in 2006 to be commemorated on 1 November each year. It has since evolved as the most powerful platform of young people of Africa.

    OAYouth, in collaboration with Phelps Stokes and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is hosting the ‘African Youth Day Conference 2011 (AYDAC'11)’ on 1 November 2011 in Johannesburg.

    The youth of Africa will convene at AYDAC’11 to celebrate the African Youth Day. The conference will pave way for youth to examine workable methods to improve youth unity as well as strengthen youth economic empowerment through leadership development, entrepreneurship support and agricultural transformation.

    Conference Objectives:

    • Echo the voice of ordinary young people of Africa;
    • Share information and best practices in promoting opportunities for youth encouraging youth to start new entrepreneurship initiatives;
    • Establish suitable structures for meeting the unique needs for youth business start-ups in developing economies in Africa;
    • Build lasting relationships between youth and business institutions;
    • Infuse a gender perspective and rights-based approach to policies and programs for youth;
    • Cultivate in the youth the spirit of accountability, transparency and integrity (ATI).
    Only young people of between 15 and 35 who are of nationality of any African State will qualify to apply.

    Cost: R2 430 per delegate.

    For sponsorships, exhibitions and applications, write to: info@oayouth.org.

    Enquiries: Tel: +27 73 445 4355.

    For more about The Organisation of African Youth, refer to www.oayouth.org.

    Event start date: 
    Event venue: 
    Ingwenya Country Escape, Lanseria, Johannesburg
    Event type: 
  • CASAC’s Open Letter to Simelane

    The Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (CASAC) has written an open letter to the national director of public prosecutions (NPA), Menzi Simelane, expressing its ‘grave concern’ about his decision to prosecute the female learner in the Jules High School sexual offences matter.

    SASAC executive secretary, Lawson Naidoo, is of the view that the constitutional right of the female learner will be violated in the event of her being prosecuted.

    Naidoo has urged the NPA to reconsider its decision, and to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to protect this girl from further harm, while it reviews not just her prosecution but the policy in relations to such prosecutions.

    To read the full letter titled, “Open letter to Menzi Simelane: Jules High School case,” click here.
  • Are Men Really Better in Business than Women?

    The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that in South Africa men are 1.6 times more likely to succeed as business owners than women.

    This shocking statistic is reported to be a particularly South African phenomenon. Amongst other things, it appears to be related to low levels in self-belief amongst women that they have the knowledge, skills and experience to start and succeed in business.

    As owner of a business that is dedicated to supporting the growth of entrepreneurs, and a single mother of three girls, the reasons for this situation (and more importantly the possible solutions) have special relevance.

    The problem of gender inequality and gender violence is well documented in our country – and this in itself is enough to reduce the self-confidence and self-belief of women. However, it is only when travelling outside the main centres that one sees the broader effects of this inequality – where girl children are pulled out of school at a young age to help around the house, and the prevailing attitude seems to be ‘why bother?’, as they will invariably marry young and/ or be pregnant by the age of 16 or 17.

    This is certainly not only a South African problem - I recall being shocked at the low levels of schooling amongst girl children in rural Zambia, where girls are removed from school and married off as young as 13! Of course part of this equation is the effect of culture, and cultures which entrench the concept of women as second class citizens incapable of independent thought should not be surprised when these same women fail as entrepreneurs.

    But its not just culture, nor education that holds women entrepreneurs back – and for this I am a case in point. I was raised as an equal in a family of boys, and am blessed with a post-graduate education - so from a self-belief, cultural and skills perspective I score tops. Yet despite this I have had to shoulder some burdens from which the average man is shielded.

    Firstly, I have no wife at home to care for the children, do the shopping, cleaning, laundry – I do that. Secondly and possibly most significant, I care for everyone else too – often both financially and emotionally – my mother, my staff, my community.

    I am by no means the outlier in this statistic – many, if not most women entrepreneurs are wives and mothers who run the business with one hand and the world with the other. The more rural the environment, the harder the task as rural women face challenges of water collection, firewood collection, atrocious health support systems, and often an oppressive cultural environment.

    My own experience in running enterprise development programmes assisting emerging entrepreneurs and community projects has provided some wonderfully inspiring examples of successful women in business, proving that with the appropriate opportunities women can certainly compete, if not surpass men as entrepreneurs.

    So within this reality, how can we help women rise to find independence, wealth, satisfaction and success as entrepreneurs?

    Firstly, women and girls need to be supported in the belief that they can be successful business leaders and entrepreneurs. This begins with exposure to success stories, and by seeing successful women at work in their communities. One such example of a true female role model is Eunice Mlotywa of Iliwa, based in Khayelitsha township in the Western Cape and a beneficiary of the Old Mutual Legends Programme. Eunice has over the years single-handedly built a highly successful sewing and beading business, and as her confidence and success increases she is branching out into other gaps in the market, opening a spaza shop and selling airtime and electricity to the community. In amongst all this, Eunice somehow finds the time to manage a feeding scheme for the aged, be a mentor to young girls in the community, run training workshops and be a mother herself. Hers is a story that needs to be told, to inspire other women to rise up and make an impact.

    Secondly girls need to be properly educated – all the way to matric and beyond. And education needs to include subjects such as mathematics, science, computer literacy, communications and public speaking, all vital components of a leadership and business role. I recall an experience in Mpumulanga in 2009, when providing business skills training to a group of rural women and discovering that almost half of them were functionally illiterate. One lady could hardly hold a pen to place a cross where her signature should go, and yet this woman was dynamic, highly intelligent and capable – on the face of it far more capable than her brother sitting on the opposite side of the room, who had been educated to matric level. Given the right education opportunities, who knows what she might achieve?

    Thirdly, women need to surround themselves with people who enable them to succeed as women, and as mothers and as business leaders! This means creating support networks, access to peer groups and mentors who support them in their goal to succeed and lead. One of my favourite success stories is the Inina Craft Cooperative from Eshowe near the Valley of a Thousand Hills, KwaZulu-Natal.

    This group of 150 Zulu mothers and grandmothers, most of whom are illiterate and have little or no formal education, have created a thriving business using the traditional weaving, beading and handcraft skills within their community. Inina is efficiently managed by suitably skilled local women, for the benefit of local women. In the true spirit of mothering, they even find the time and generosity to create and support an orphanage for HIV-affected children in the community.

    Lastly, women and girls need to learn to be more selfish. They need to know that not only is it okay to put themselves first, to ‘say no’, but that unless they do they will endlessly remain the supporter of someone else’s dreams, and never achieve their own. Women need to know that success comes to those who say ‘Yes!’ to opportunity, and step up to reach their dreams.

    So, while the data may show that men are 1.6 times more likely to be successful entrepreneurs in South Africa, perhaps the real measure of success should be not simply the number of men or women in business, but the impact that their success has? If we look closely at the wider benefits that women in business create – beyond income and job creation to family stability and community support – it may be just as accurate to say that successful female entrepreneurs offer 1.6 times more value to the economy and the country as a whole, than their male counterparts!

    - Catherine Wijnberg ( (MBA, M.Agr.Sc. BSc.Agric.(Hons) is recognised as a catalyst for her innovative thinking in the field of small business development. She is the Director of Fetola & Associates, a fast growing enterprise development agency that operates throughout Southern Africa, as well as the Fetola Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation made up of individuals with a desire to make an impact in sustainable community development.

    Qualified with a Masters degree in Agriculture and an MBA from Henley UK, Catherine has owned and operated small businesses in five different sectors, including agriculture, tourism & craft development.

    Contact: Catherine Wijnberg 084 668 4603 / 021 701 7466 cwijnberg@fetola.co.za

    Catherine Wijnberg
  • 20 Arrested Over Lesbian Relationships

    Media reports from Zimbabwe say up to 20 Eveline High School girls in Bulawayo have been arrested for practising lesbian relationships.

    Bulawayo acting provincial police spokesperson, assistant inspector, Bekimpilo Ndlovu, points out that, "The matter is very delicate and cannot be discussed at the moment because that might jeopardise our investigations.

    Meanwhile, Carlton club president, Theresa Ndlovu, expressed disappointment at the developments saying her vision is to empower girls through soccer. The girls play for Carlton Football Club.

    To read the article titled, “20 Eveline High school girls arrested for lesbian relationships,” click here.
    The ZimDiaspora
  • New Women Agency at United Nations

    Women's rights advocates who spent years pushing for a United Nations (UN) women’s agency celebrated earlier this month when secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, announced its creation on 2 July.

    The agency, which is meant to tackle all issues facing women and balance gender inequality, the agency is the first of its kind in the organisation's 65-year history, with a proposed annual budget of US$1 billion.

    Advocates claimed a lack of transparency and minimal involvement by non-UN organisations could create an inept agency, resulting in little change for women worldwide.

    To read the article titled, “UN acted in 'bad faith' over new women's agency,” click here.
  • NGO Slams Plans to Exploit Women During World Cup

    A London-based human rights organisation, Women of Africa (WOA), has denounced plans by 'flesh networks' and some individuals to sexually exploit and abuse African women during the FIFA World Cup.

    The organisation says states that it is, "Very concerned to know that alongside preparations for the games, there are robust plans to traffic our vulnerable women and girls to South Africa for sexual exploitation during this historic world event for financial gains."

    WOA's stance, contained in a strongly-worded press statement issued in London, is a reaction to an online publication which revealed plans by the 'flesh networks' to supply women and girls from various countries, including Nigeria, to ‘take care of the men’ during the soccer showpiece.

    To read the article titled, “Rights group denounces 'trading of women' at South Africa 2010,” click here .
    All Africa
    Article link: 
  • WAWA President to Visit Sierra Leone

    The West Africa Women's Association (WAWA), in a bid to promote the women of Sierra Leone in making them to be self-employed, will pay a three-day visit to that country.

    WAWA president, Khady Fall Tall, will pay a courtesy call on the minister of social welfare, gender and children's affairs and other organisations to update them on the functions of WAWA.

    Speaking to Concord Times, focal person of the Sierra Leone branch of WAWA, Patricia Macauley, said the organisation helps to promote the economic status of women and to help establish partnership with national and international organisations involved in development and gender issues.

    To read the article titled, “WAWA President Visits Salone,” click here .
    All Africa
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  • Activists March in Support of Khwezi

    One in Nine Campaign members have cautioned women not to enter the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, warning them that the building is unsafe because it is where President, Jacob Zuma, was found not guilty of raping a an HIV-positive woman four years ago.

    The campaign, established in 2006 at the start of the Zuma rape trial, organised a picket outside the high court as a sign of solidarity with Khwezi (Zuma’s rape accuser), and other women who have reported rape.

    After song and dance, the female protesters marched on to Kruis Street, where they hung a banner from the Colman Chamber building, reading: ‘Four years later, Zuma is president, Khwezi is in exile, where is the justice?’

    To read the article titled, “One in Nine Campaign marches in support of Khwezi,” click here.
  • Little Progress in Achieving Gender Equality

    Across the globe, women's rights defenders have been campaigning for an end to violence against women. South Africa is no exception. Workshops, launches, exhibitions, training events and celebrations take place across the country and the region, intensifying during national and global campaigns, such as the 16 Days of Activism to end Violence Against Women, an event taking place every December.

    On the surface of it, there is much to celebrate - South Africa's progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 that aims to achieve gender equality and empower women by 2015, included.

    However, a closer look reveals that significant obstacles in women's development still exist, and South Africa is lagging behind in reaching the MDG targets, particularly when it comes to the inter-relationship between gender inequality, violence against women and HIV.

    We have to urgently address the continuous high levels of violence against women and girls, which have a direct impact on increasing HIV infections rates in the same group. South African women between 20 and 25 years are six times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men of the same age, according to a 2007 study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa.

    Many suggestions for how to tackle the inter-relationship between HIV and gender inequality are nothing but superficial, short-term responses. In Mozambique, for example, where widows are 'cleansed' by being forced to have sex with their late husband's brother, traditional leaders recommended dealing with the risk of HIV infections by asking men to wear condoms.
    As another example, some international organisations recommend responding to child-headed households - who are mostly caused by HIV/AIDS and run by girl children - by providing “modest levels of material support and training in effective parenting”. Surely this cannot be believed to be an honest attempt at solving the problem.

    When two women were stripped and sexually assaulted at a taxi rank in South Africa’s metropolis Johannesburg in February 2008, some politicians suggested it was women’s fault - they should dress more moderately and travel in groups to protect themselves against violence. This is yet another attempt at diverting attention from the real cause of the problem.
    Teachers train children to ‘say no!’ to those who want to abuse them, even though it should be obvious to anyone working with children that they don’t have the power to defend themselves against a criminal by just saying ‘no’.

    Generally speaking, campaigns to ‘end violence against women and children’ tend to focus on behaviour change of survivors of violence and potential victims, instead of that of perpetrators. The also conflate the terms women and children when the issues facing these two groups require very different strategies.

    If we want to make headway towards women’s empowerment and gender equality, we need to start questioning the existence of child-headed households and the 'cultural' practice of rape rather than suggesting band-aid solutions. It is not feasible to give responsibility for saying 'no' to a child with little power or curtail women's freedom for their safety.

    Civil society organisations must take on the critical role of examining, evaluating and changing existing approaches to achieve lasting change for women and girls, as well as for men and boys. We must ensure that our work transforms gender inequality, rather than supports the status quo for short-term gains.

    We must make the Millennium Development Goals themselves more gender aware, our strategies to achieving them cognisant of gender and our evaluation of progress uncompromising.

    - Sally-Jean Shackleton is former executive director at Women’sNet. This article first appeared in the ‘Countdown To 2015’ newsletter, a publication by Inter Press Service in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust..
    Sally Shackleton
  • Cape Town Tourism Warns Human Traffickers

    Cape Town Tourism, CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, has thrown down the gauntlet to human traffickers in the final countdown to the FIFA World Cup next month.

    In a hard-hitting press statement, Du Toit-Helmbold, whose organisation is a member of Fair Trade in Tourism SA (FTTSA), points out that this week the Cape Town Tourism welcomes visitors from all over the world, but not those who come with the intention to exploit women and children.

    She says the protection of women and children, through tourism is essential, adding that, “When people travel with the intention to exploit women and children, it becomes a matter of interest for tourism.”

    To read the article titled, “Cape Town Tourism tackles human trafficking,” click here.
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