Thursday, February 26, 2015

Preparations For the 6th National Conference of the African National Congress Women's League
24 February 2015
African National Congress Women's League (ANCWL)

In August 2014, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANCWL adopted and presented a road map towards the organisation`s 6th National Congress.

The roadmap was instructive on inter alia, the need to follow proper and stringent organizational processes in the lead up to the Conference.

To this end, structures of the organisation had to be built where there were none and those whose mandates had expired were revived. A thorough branch auditing process has been underway to determine the 70% branches quota required to convene a National Conference. To consider policy proposals in the lead up to the National Conference, a Policy Conference was convened.

An audit process of all the League`s branches, initiated in September 2014, has been completed. The National Policy Conference was convened at the Birchwood Conference Centre on the 12th to the 14th December 2014.

The ANCWL`s National Conference will take place on the 16th to the 19th April 2015 in Gauteng. Preparations for the 6th National Conference are well underway. The ANCWL`s structures, including branches countrywide - anticipate a robust and productive conference that will chart the course for the organization in the years to come.

The National Conference will be attended by 3000 delegates, with 90% of delegates representing branches of the League. We are currently in the process of finalizing the provincial delegations.

Remaining delegates will be drawn from the ranks of the African National Congress (ANC), the alliance partners, the Progressive Women`s Movement (PWM), business and the media.

Regional General Councils and Provincial General Councils will be convened around the country to consolidate our policy positions, elect delegates to Conference and their preferences on leadership to these forward.

As we continue to Work Together to Move South Africa Forward in this, the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and the 21st year of our democracy, the National Conference is both timely and relevant.

Our aim as the ANCWL is to develop policies that will change the lives of our people for the better: and in particular, to deliberate on the conditions facing South African women.

Last year`s National Policy Conference included women from all walks of life and was convened under the theme "Radical Transformation of Women`s Socio-Economic Rights".

The reality is that despite impressive strides made by the ANC in accelerating women`s empowerment: the majority of the country`s women continue to face economic marginalization and impoverishment.

Women continue to bear the brunt of poverty, and are generally excluded from meaningful, stable employment and business opportunities.

The Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) reports that despite successes in broadening women`s access to the formal economy through employment equity policies and BBBEE, there has since been stagnation in some areas and regression in others.

A large number of South African women are concentrated in low-skilled and low-paying jobs, as well as in unpaid work. Poverty, access to resources and land, cultural stereotypes and entrenched patriarchy continue impede the advancement of women.

Recommendations from the National Policy Conference emphasized the need to accelerate the advancement of the women`s agenda.

In addition to this, to work towards the advancement of a truly non-sexist society, codified in both the South African Constitution and the ANC`s Strategy and Tactics.

It is our expectation that our branches will enrich the recommendations from the National Policy Conference and take forward bold and radical resolutions to the ANCWL National Conference, and later to the ANC Policy Conference in June this year.

The National Conference will engage sectoral discussions around the following broad thematic areas:

Organizational Renewal
Women and Education
Women and the Economy
Gender Based Violence
Women and Health

Once adopted by the National Conference, the resolutions will be lobbied for within the structures of the ANCWL and the ANC- in preparation for the ANC National General Council (NGC) in June 2015.

Key recommendations of the National Policy Conference that will be deliberated on ahead of the National Conference include:

On Women and the Economy

A call for legislation, policies, plans and programmes to promote the economic empowerment of women
Exploring the establishment of a Women`s Bank, drawing on international best practice, such as the founding of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh
The establishment of a Women`s Development Agency/ Empowerment Fund, located in the Ministry of Women

Engaging government and the private sector to develop strategies and programmes that will ensure a shift from consumption to productive economic policies, effectively using SMMEs to create employment, growth and an inclusive economy for the benefit of women in particular;
Lobbying for the amendment of existing BBBEE legislation, with a greater emphasis on women beneficiaries;
Special interventions for women and young girls from rural communities, so that they stay in school longer, take advantage of training, and gain meaningful access to technology, training and assets for employment and economic transformation
Encouraging women to manage and own their farms and play an active role in stimulating agriculture and agro-processing for rural development and the creation of jobs, with women being the main beneficiaries;
Engaging government to ensure that women who are involved in farming and have access to agricultural education

On Women and Poverty

We have acknowledged the great strides made by the governing party in alleviating poverty through its progressive policies. However, the skewed impact of poverty on black women necessitates bold, radical and decisive action.

The land question remains an emotive one, and plays a decisive role in the struggle for the political, economic and social emancipation of the people of South Africa, and of women, in particular.

To this end, Conference will have to consider the following recommendations:

On Land

The review process of the impact of the 1913 Land Act should ensure that women access productive agricultural land that will sustain their livelihoods, and that adequate mentoring programmes are provided to women who were given land by government
Government must develop and implement programmes that will ensure that women utilize the accessed land for their economic development; and should be encouraged to create markets for produce and goods manufactured by women cooperatives and companies, working with the private sector

On Social Grants

Noting the rate of misuse of social grants and other government poverty relief initiatives by some of the beneficiaries; the ANCWL National Policy Conference recommended that 50% of child support grants should be in the form of non-transferable food vouchers
Assisting women to register companies, and lobby for a certain percentage of tenders related to poverty relief programmes to be ring-fenced for women in both the public and private sectors

On Women and Education

Greater emphasis must be placed on skills development for women and girls, including advocacy for greater access to Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and strengthening the Quality Learning and Training Campaign (QLTC), ABET and Kha Ri Gude
More women should be targeted for training in technical subjects, including, if necessary, the retraining of some teachers to offer technical subjects
Active and visible support for teenage and single mothers to return to school, and ensuring education institutions in the country provide safe and secure physical and emotional environments for our children

On Gender Based Violence

The cultural practice of ukuthwala constitutes an injustice to women and girl-children and must be abolished
The custom of virginity testing of young girls exposes the girl-child to rape, incest, abuse and sexual violence; and must be abolished
Strict measures must be implemented to punish perpetrators who are responsible for deaths and amputations of initiates during the initiation of boys into manhood as a result of ill-treatment and lack of care
More stringent monitoring and evaluation of the turn-around time taken on gender-based violence cases
Mobilization of society to campaign and picket outside courts to raise awareness about the prevailing weaknesses in the Justice system in relation to gender-based violence cases
Prioritization of criminal cases relating to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), and that harsh sentences should be imposed on those found guilty of violating their rights
Harsh sentences must be imposed on perpetrators of witchcraft murders, in order to protect the rights of all elderly women
The Thuthuzela integrated strategy for prevention, reaction and support for rape victims is an effective strategy that improved prosecution, particularly in the areas of sexual offences, maintenance, child justice and domestic violence, and therefore needs to be re-prioritized.

We look forward to the National Conference, confident that the ANC Women`s League will emerge from it with decisive and bold policies that will give further impetus to the fight for gender equality and a truly non-sexist society.

As we celebrate our gains as women in the 21st year since the birth of our democracy: we are also looking ahead, to the further advancement of the status of women. It is an ideal on which the ANCWL has founded: and continues to sustain. And in this we are grateful to the African National Congress for its support of the objectives of the National Conference. May we all continue to Work Together to Move South Africa Forward: and in particular, to move the women of South Africa Forward.

Issued by
Angie Motshekga
African National Congress Women`s League

Edna Molewa
Head of Communications
076 462 5529

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